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Proposed Santa Monica Police Contract Includes 11 Percent Raises over Three Years


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

July 7, 2017 -- Santa Monica police officers receive an 11 percent pay increase over three years and see a hike in the amount they contribute towards their pensions under a proposed contract set to go to the City Council on Tuesday.

If approved, the agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the Police Officers Association (POA) goes into effect July 1 and ends June 30, 2020.

Officers receive a 6 percent salary hike in the first year of the agreement, followed by increases of 2.5 percent the next two years, according to a staff report.

Santa Monica is well-known for offering its government employees some of the highest pay and benefits of California municipalities, and police have traditionally enhanced their paychecks with overtime pay.

For instance, Deputy Police Chief Alfonso Venegas in 2016 received base pay of $215,624, which was hiked up by other pay to reach $299,653. With benefits, his compensation reached $453,831.

Between pay and benefits, Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks received $488,033 in 2016, leaving Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck far behind with total compensation of $346,787 ("Santa Monica City Pay and Benefits Climb at Double the Inflation Rate, New Data Shows," May 2, 2017).

High pay at City Hall stirred such outcry that the City formed an ad hoc committee of residents to help auditors delve into the issue ("Residents Committee Recommended to Examine High Cost of Santa Monica City Employee Compensation," April 18, 2017).

Under the proposed agreement with the POA, on a five-step scale, a deputy chief would earn in base pay from $184,560 to $227,856, while a captain would earn from $167,784 to $207,144.

A police lieutenant would earn $143,580 to $177,264; a sergeant from $117,552 to $145,128; and an officer from $88,428 to $109,164.

The report said the POA members will also contribute a total of 15.5 percent –- up from the current 6.5 percent they chip in -- of their salaries towards the cost of their retirement benefits in the first year of the agreement.

By the third year, POA members will be paying a total of 17.5% towards retirement benefits, the report said.

Employees will pay an additional 2 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums the first year of the agreement and another 1 percent over the remaining two years, the report said.

“The overall policy of the City of Santa Monica has been to maintain competitive wages, hours, and working conditions in a high-cost geographic labor market in order to retain and attract a high-quality workforce to serve our community across a wide range of specialized service,” the staff report said.

“Generally, we find ourselves in first or second position among comparable cities. As a result, the City has maintained competitiveness through modest cost of living adjustments,” it said.

Negotiations are ongoing with several remaining bargaining units, the report said, and agreements are expected to be reached early in the new fiscal year, which started July 1.

The negotiated changes in the proposed POA pact total about $1.052 million for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.


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