BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A long-awaited contract agreement between the city of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield police officers union will come to the City Council for approval Wednesday night.
Officers represented by the Bakersfield Police Officers' Association have been without a contract since 2007 and in that time have demanded an overall 12 percent pay increase paid both retroactively and going forward.
City representatives have said such an increase is unaffordable, especially given pressure on city revenues during the economic downturn. Bakersfield police haven't received a cost-of-living salary increase since March 2007, according to an administrative report from the city manager's office.
The agreement coming before the council Wednesday would only last until the end of the current fiscal year, on June 30. It proposes to pay salary increases retroactively in two parts of 3 percent each: one going back to Dec. 19, 2011, and the second retroactive to July 2, 2012.
The agreement also includes possible cost-of-living increases, between 1 percent and 6 percent of salary.
City Manager Alan Tandy previously said the retroactive payments and salary increases for the current fiscal year come to $2.6 million.
The proposed agreement also incorporates the terms of Measure D, a pension measure voters overwhelmingly approved in 2010.
Measure D set lower pension benefits for public safety employees hired as of Jan. 1, 2011, from 3 percent of salary for every year worked to 2 percent, with benefits available at age 50.
The measure also required employees hired after Jan. 1, 2011, to pay all of their share of employee pension contributions instead of the city making those payments after five years of employment.
BPOA, which represents about 300 officers, sued over the measure last year.
Also Wednesday, the council will consider helping pay for a legal challenge to the California high-speed rail project.
City administrators and council members have been vocal about their displeasure with the state High-Speed Rail Authority, particularly what they see as a lack of communication with the city.
Last October, the council authorized the city attorney to sue the rail authority, if needed, to challenge the environmental document outlining the project because it doesn't adequately address how impacts to the city from the project would be mitigated.
The proposal before the council is to contribute $5,000 for costs related to a lawsuit by Kings County and two Kings County men claiming that the rail project doesn't comply with certain requirements of the bond act voters approved to help fund it.
Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, a Kings County-based group, is trying to raise $30,000 to hire legal counsel for the suit, and the organization has asked agencies that could be affected by the rail project to help with the cost. A trial is scheduled for May 31 in Sacramento County Superior Court.
Council members will consider action related to another lawsuit Wednesday night. City Attorney Virginia Gennaro has proposed that the city hire law firm Duane Morris to sue the state Department of Finance over disputed redevelopment funding.
City administrators have said Bakersfield, as the successor to its now-dissolved redevelopment agency, is due certain property tax money to repay redevelopment debts. The state is blocking several million dollars of that funding.