Fort Worth police labor contract approved
A. Lee Graham
The Fort Worth Police Officers Association is satisfied with a newly approved four-year labor contract covering 1,525 police officers despite what it considers low incentive pay and uniform allowance.
“I think it’s a fair deal,” said Sgt. Steve Hall, association president, commenting minutes after the City Council approved the contract.
By 7-0 vote, the council on March 26 approved a contract that increases the city’s costs about $34.5 million from now until its 2016 expiration date. That means adding $706,000 to the city’s current year budget.
District 6 Councilman Jungus Jordan was out of town and did not vote, and District 8 Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray abstained, citing her husband’s job as a city police officer as a conflict of interest.
The vote caps 14 months of negotiations between the city and the police officers association. About 1,414 of the department’s 1,525 officers are association members, with membership providing some financial support for families of injured officers among other benefits. Still, in an interview after the meeting, Hall said some officers hoped for more incentive pay covering optional, supplementary training such as active-shooter education as well as higher uniform allowance. Currently, officers receive $300 a year to buy uniforms and must maintain all department-issued equipment except for handguns and protective vests, which are replaced every five years.
“The officers would have liked to have seen more attention given to incentive pay like education, which was a big part of a conversation,” Hall said.
“It went as smoothly as possible,” Mayor Betsy Price said of negotiations leading up to the council vote. “We appreciate the effort everybody’s made at this time.”
The contract provides many things, including a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise for all 1,525 officers beginning Oct. 1. That covers the first year of the contract. In 2014-15 there will be a 2 percent raise. For 2015-16, officers will receive 1 percent more pay at the beginning of the contract term and 2 percent at its mid-point.
The contract also creates new hiring procedures for reappointed officers and lateral hires from other law enforcement agencies, includes peer representatives for officers in internal affairs division investigations and clarifies holiday pay and overtime eligibility.
Meanwhile, the city and police officers association both await the outcome of a lawsuit filed after the council’s decision last October to approve cuts in the police pension plan. The suit, regarding whether pension revisions are legal, remains in state district in Fort Worth. Hall declined to comment on the pending litigation.
In other business, the council adopted rates for renting exhibit space under construction at Will Rogers Memorial Center. Named Brown Lupton North, the 8,500-square-foot space in the Richardson-Bass Building is expected to be available for use by mid-year.
“We need it ready by June,” said Kirk Slaughter, the city’s director of public events.
The Appaloosa Horse Club has booked the facility for its 66th National Appaloosa Horse Show and 2013 World Championship Appaloosa Youth Show from June 24-July 6.
The new daily rental rates vary, from $100 for 500- or 650-square-foot spaces to $1,200 for 1,200-square-foot show and support spaces.
“This is a nice addition, Kirk,” Price said.
Meanwhile, the council received an update on the 83rd Texas Legislature in Austin.
Fort Worth is keeping tabs on 1,637 of the 6,048 total bills filed this session, according to Charles Daniels, an assistant city manager.
Providing a federal legislative update was Kasey Pipes, founder of Corley Pipes Consulting LLC. Topping his update was sequestration.
“I wish I could report that it has been solved, but I cannot,” said Pipes, updating the council on the first year of a nine-year sequestration process calling for $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts.
“The good news I can report is Congress has agreed on a continuing resolution … that puts some money back into the Defense Department and gives it a little more flexibility in cuts they have to make,” Pipes said.