Police to forgo pay raises for a year

Union pay raises totalled $2.7 million last year

With just a few weeks left to patch a $4.3 million general fund deficit, the city's police have agreed to go without regular pay raises next year.

Unfortunately the agreement with police does little to lower this year's projected $4.3 million budget deficit because city officials had been assuming police would go without raises after their contract expired in June.

With their contract expiring this June, police agreed to extend their current contract another year without the raise, called a cost of living adjustment. Over the last two years, police have received the raise, which is worth 3.2 percent of their salaries. That would cost the city about $560,000 to do again this year, said assistant city manager Nadine Levin.

If the city's three other unions follow the example of police and forgo the pay raises, called cost of living adjustments, the city would save another $1.46 million, Levin said.

Last year, all city employees, minus department heads, received raises worth $2.7 million, including cost of living adjustments, merit pay for good performance and "step" increases in pay based on years worked. The City Council's goal this year is to cut those raises by $1 million.

So far the agreement with police appears to be the biggest concession to come from one of the city's four unions in talks to reduce the growth of employee compensation costs. On May 4, Firefighter's Association president John Miguel said his union was not considering a complete elimination of pay raises, but a reduction in pay raises worth $1 million in savings to the city over the next two years. He said he hoped to prevent cuts to city services and employee layoffs.

With police being the only union with a contract expiring this year, the city's other three unions are being asked to make concessions that are purely voluntary.

"We are still in conversation with all groups in how we can achieve that $1 million, including the Police Officer's Association," Levin said.

As part of a "three pronged approach" to fixing the $4.3 million deficit, the city is hoping to get $1 million in savings by reducing the growth of employee compensation costs, $1.2 million from service fee hikes services and $2 million from other budget cuts.

Employee compensation costs are 80 percent of the city budget. Because of pay raises and increasingly expensive pensions and health care benefits, employee compensation costs have risen by almost $4 million a year at a time when tax revenue has remained relatively flat, but is now starting to recover.

The clock is counting down to a June 8 meeting where the City Council will be presented with the best plans for employee salary savings that the city manager's office and union leaders can agree on.


3 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm

They're cutting this pretty tight since the budget must be approved by June 30.

3 people like this
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Today's Mercury News states the the average Firefighter Salary in Mountain View is in excess of $150,000. This is more than twice what we pay our teachers. I don't see why these prima donnas are not willing to make concessions. They want to kill the golden goose.

3 people like this
Posted by vfree
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Hey, Konrad when's the last time you was a teacher run into a burning building to save a life? Furthermore, our public schools are a complete failure, and our Fire Dept. rating is as high it gets.

3 people like this
Posted by Andy
a resident of Castro City
on May 25, 2010 at 3:40 pm

And when is the last time you saw a firefighter try to teach a group of students something worthwhile to contribute to the development of their futures?

Your attempt at trying to make a point is a poor one. That's comparing apples to oranges.

If MVFD firefighters are making in excess of $150,000 and refuse to give up their raises, they SHOULD be called prima donnas.

In the bigger picture of things, something is wrong with our society when we pay firefighters more than teachers. Hell, most of the people who I graduated high school with that wanted to be firefighters were the dim light bulb kids with no other option because no university would accept them! Why is the bottom of the barrel pulling in over $100k when the educators and well educated fight for mediocre paying jobs?

3 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Hey "vfree"....your so funny :-[

3 people like this
Posted by the299crew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

The City milk truck is starting to dry up. Not a lot of cows left to fill it up. However, what union in their right mind wants to get off of the golden teet? Hopefully this big ol' Dairy Queen on the penninsula starts to make some significant changes. The changes described in the article above are what I would call "insignificant."

In the private sector, I have had quite a few years, even when the company was profitable, where cost of living raises were either less than 3-percent or zero. Just a reality check here.

3 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 25, 2010 at 5:12 pm

There is an old saying: Those who can, do. Those who can't teach. Those who can't teach, teach history. Those who can not teach history, become gym coaches.
So, why does a teacher need a high salary. California already had about 1,500 foreign teachers, here on L-1 visas. We could bring in thousands more overnight and pay then minimum wage. A better idea is to cut the waste in school, which is, any expense that does not include learning in the classroom. While our city police and firefighters are doing an excellent job overall, when a recession hits, we must all share the pain. Since police and firefighters "do" something instead of "teach" something, they are worthy of more compensation.
A typical example of waste and stupidity in our schools is when Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez, of Live Oak High School, in Morgan Hill, sent five students home for wearing American Flag t-shirts. Five students who were well behaved and not breaking any rules.

3 people like this
Posted by Tony
a resident of Castro City
on May 25, 2010 at 5:47 pm

The fire department isn't giving up jack. Why should they? "We charge into burning buldings..." Not any ones in Mountain View, they all burn down. Now get a kitten out of a tree, and I'm sure they're good to go.

This isn't New York. It's not L.A. It's not even Palo Alto. It's Mountain View. Why do we even need 5 freakin' firestations. To cover all the bad fires in all the high rises here?

These fire guys are all spoiled babies who have gotten used to "mandatory overtime" to feed their massive ego's. They wave 9/11 banners and you all want to write them checks. We have brand new fire trucks, we have a swat team, public safety has toaken over Mountain View and we'll all pay for it. Napa anyone? Public safety runs them, let's see how good things went there.

But they want everyone else to cut and cut and cut, just so they can earn more in overtime than most city staff makes as part of tehir salaries.

Now, all the fire department staff will jump on after me and act like concernced citizens. Don't be fooled. All you sheep are falling for the public safety shuffle. Ask any one of them how they get their overtime so high. Don't be fooled. These people are important, not that important.

3 people like this
Posted by jill
a resident of Castro City
on May 25, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Real shallow, Charles. As if no one ever learned anything from their teacher. Get a life.

3 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 9:57 pm

USA is a registered user.

"the last time you was a teacher" => "the last time you were a teacher"
"your so funny" => "you're so funny"


3 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 10:04 pm

USA is a registered user.

I am still working on my 2009 corporate taxes this week.
I am working on paperwork for an IRS audit of the 2007 corporate taxes (legit but lots of paperwork to prove it)
I just signed a contract today that guarantees me 25% income drop this year verses last year, but at least it will bring in some money.

To the city, the firefighters, and the other union workers [Disrespectful comments about their mothers removed - Ed.]

3 people like this
Posted by Frank
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Per a previous Voice article the MV firefighters have offered up close to one million dollars in concessions to help with the so called budget crisis. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. As you sit and bash an honest profession that is built upon public service ask yourself what contribution to society you have made.

3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 26, 2010 at 7:13 am

Great discussion, problems abound in both areas! But this article was more specifically about the police giving up their salary increases. Very noble, perhaps they should get a cut of all those extra traffic tickets they've been writing. Or do they already?

3 people like this
Posted by NW Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on May 26, 2010 at 10:15 am

On the topic above about why we need 5 fire stations when there are very few fires to fight, it's important to remember that 65% of the Fire Dept's calls are for rescue/medical situations. You can find a breakdown of the 2007-08 call response data on the fire dept website.
True that fires account for only 2.6% of calls in MV, but another 32% of calls are classified as hazardous, service, good intent, or false.

I think it's great that our police union has been willing to work with the city to help reduce the budget deficit in an effort to save jobs and services from being cut.

3 people like this
Posted by jus-me
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 26, 2010 at 11:24 am

Re: submission by NW Resident above - finally got some stats re: responses by MVFD involved here. Nice to read some logic. Previous fragmentary, ignorant comments are entertaining - for a minute or two - but, I'd rather read constructive stuff!

3 people like this
Posted by Budget Watcher
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm

In the budget distributed at the highly attended city council first budget meeting - it was VERY CLEAR that the fire department has had the least cuts over the years, and runs the LEAST LEAN of any of the large spending departments. Do we want to run a city that compares in salary structure to a city that has gone into receivership (ie bankrupt)??? The Merc News article is a good place for all of you to start.
I would agree with the contention that the average of firefighters salaries should not be on the order of 2X teachers. [someone have numbers - administrators removed from averages?]

3 people like this
Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 26, 2010 at 9:50 pm

A little known fact that the firefighters don't want let out is that modern houses burn much less often than previously. They are built better and modern appliances are mcuh safer and failsafe.

So the unions make work for themselves by going on so-called "rescue/medical situations." We do not need highly paid firefighters driving expensive fire equipment to go to a house where some is having a heart attack. This should be bid out to a private ambulance company with performance measures. We could close down half the fire stations in this town and not notice it.

Another thing, many cities in other states contract out their fire services to private companies. They have been doing this for years and get great service.

We simply cannot afford these outrageous government employee wages and benefits.

3 people like this
Posted by the299crew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 27, 2010 at 9:58 am

Scale up in the good times, and scale back in the bad times. That's what most of the folks here reading and commenting on this issue do for themselves. However, the City unions and structure makes it nearly impossible to do the right and sensible thing. It is time to make a few changes, take some personal responsibility, and hunker down. Paraphrasing the words of Barry O's chief of staff, ...never let a good crisis go to waste...

3 people like this
Posted by please
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Hey "curious",

"... modern houses burn less often than previously"

In fact the construction found in "modern houses" makes them much more dangerous than older homes. They are built with light weight trusses and metal gusset plates that fail much faster when exposed to fire. Wooden I-beams common in "modern houses" also contribute directly to rapid fire spread and greater heat generation. I'm curious, where do you get your facts? Fires make up a smaller percentage of the total incidents the fire dept. responds to these days because they respond to so much more than they ever have- fires, medical, car wrecks, hazardous materials, rescues, service, etc.

"Firefighters make work for themselves by going on so-called rescue/medical situations".

What does that mean? Santa Clara County contracts with a private company that provides one ambulance in Mountain View and there's nothing that says it has to stay there when there is a need elsewhere in the county. The contract forbids the fire department from transporting patients even though it is much better equipped and positioned to do so.

"...many cities in other states contract out their fire service to private companies"

Really? Like what cities? I'd be shocked if you could name even five.

You people obviously have a lot of time to read (and comment on) the articles found here in the Voice. Think about some that you've seen over the years- fires, shootings, stabbings, murders, suicides, serious vehicle accidents, etc. One thing that each of these often horrific things have in common is that firefighters and police officers are there working to make a difference to those involved. For every one you read about there are literally thousands more that you don't ever hear about.

As "299crew" says- "...scale back in bad times." If times are really so bad why is City Hall spending literally millions of dollars on property? Hundreds of thousands of dollars on high speed rail studies? Hmmmm, maybe things aren't as bad as we've been led to believe.

3 people like this
Posted by Peter: A Resident against Ignorance
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Perhaps all you ignoramuses should know this: according to statistics on the fire department website, 64.94% of all fire department calls are emergency medical calls. So, when you happen to feel the left side of your side numb-up, or if you have an EMS emergency, perhaps you will then think twice about complaining about firefighter salaries, or at least think twice about writing infantile ad-hominem attacks!

3 people like this
Posted by Rad T
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Hey, vfree when's the last time a figherfighter ran into a burning building to save a life? How often does that happen exactly? Why do they need to shiny new trucks? To atrend to a fender bender?

3 people like this
Posted by Radk T
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Peter, why exactly do we need overpaid firefighters to attend to emergency medical calls? Would a private ambulance not be better? Someone ale mentions rescue call? Are they rescuing cats out of trees?

3 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm

The truth is that we are on a course that is unsustainable. City employee compensation is now 80% of the total city budget, and the union contracts have built-in escalators that force compensation to grow at a faster rate than overall city revenue. E.g. why is "cost of living" escalator 3% when the CPI has been growing 1-2% the last 2 years? The good citizens are going to get ever more restless if taxes go up for no reason other than to support ever bigger compensation, and services are stagnating or declining.

I have read that there is a Cato study that says total government employee compensation in the U.S. is now about 30% higher than average compensation for comparable jobs in the private sector, mostly due to generous pensions, medical insurance, and retiree medical insurance. (I personally haven't read the study, and in any case is does not deal specifically with California, much less with Mountain View. But I suspect MV employee compensation is above the average for government employees.)

3 people like this
Posted by Library Employee
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm

As a long-time M.V. Library employee, I'd like to clarify two of the statements made in this article. The first is "If the city's three other unions follow the example of police and forgo the cost of living increases, the city would save another $1.46 million." The Eagles, the labor group which represents most Library employees, voted last year to forgo our COLA this coming fiscal year. Secondly, the statement "Last year, all city employees except department heads received raises worth $2.7 million, including COLA's, merit pay for good performance and "step" increases in pay based on years worked." It more accurately should have read "Last year, all city employees WHO QUALIFIED received raises worth $2.7 million, etc." I can only speak for the Library, but the overwhelming majority of permanent employees at the Library, including myself, have worked there so long that we stopped receiving merit increases/step increases many, many years ago. For example, the position I hold is structured in such a way that I could earn only 5 annual step increases, and that's all. I've been at the Library 25 years. You do the math! We have also had many years with little or no COLA. As I said, most of us at the Library are in the same boat, as I'm sure are many City employees in other departments. There are many positive things that have kept us in our jobs for 15, 20, 25, 30 years, but I'd like the public to understand that we are not the pampered, over-paid and greedy government workers that we are ALL made out to be in the media.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Waverly Park

on Sep 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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