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Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. (American Press Archives)

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. (American Press Archives)

Police, firefighter unions hold off on raise requests

Last Modified: Thursday, November 15, 2012 12:25 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

The two largest public unions in Lake Charles are not interested in pressuring Mayor Randy Roach’s administration right now for a pay raise even though the city ended the 2011-2012 fiscal year in the black.

On Tuesday, the administration announced that instead of the projected $1.3 million deficit, the city actually ended up with a $42,101 surplus due to better-than-expected revenue collections and cost-cutting measures.

Lake Charles fire union president Terrence Thomas told the American Press on Wednesday that a primary goal he wants to address is getting the union and City Hall to agree on a new contract.

In November 2011, the union ended collective bargaining talks with the Roach administration and terminated the contract firefighters worked under.

“Right now we are not going to push the issue (pay raises),” Thomas said. “We just want to try and get our contract back.”

Thomas became the new union president last summer.

“We made a mistake by terminating our contract. The deal is to try and work out differences,” he said.

The union’s former contract laid out the rules for how overtime was calculated, positions filled during absences, and other job-related matters. State civil service laws govern worker management now.

Police union president Craig Desormeaux said efforts to negotiate a new pay plan will be addressed next year. He said the surplus has no bearing on the way the union looks at pay increases right now.

“It wasn’t an issue for us. We know that it takes approximately $100,000 to increase pay for the Police Department 1 percent,” he said in a texted statement.

Desormeaux said the surplus would only “help to cover our increase in retirement contributions.”

In September, the police union met with city officials. It was announced that the union was seeking “clarifications” in the work agreement with the city.

Because of a projected $2 million deficit for the 2012-2013 budget year, police union members decided it was best not to address a pay increase this year.

The current union contract, which went into effect in 2007, was renewed in January by the City Council.

According to City Hall, the fire and police departments account for 53 percent of the city’s current budget.

The city is preparing to pay more toward retirement contributions for firefighters and police this year.

Municipalities around the state saw retirement contributions rise from 23.25 percent in 2011 percent to 24 percent in 2012 for firefighters and from 26.5 percent in 2011 to 31 percent this year for the Municipal Police Employee Retirement System.

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