Last Modified: Friday, September 07, 2012 5:01 PM
Due to another projected city deficit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, police union representatives have decided to concentrate on clarifying aspects of their collective bargaining agreement with the city instead of working for a substantial pay raise.
Members of Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach’s administration had their first meeting with newly elected police union members Thursday morning.
Lake Charles Police Officers Local 830 spokesman Craig Desormeaux said initial talks were a “feeling-out process.”
On Jan. 18, the City Council voted to extend the agreement — which has been in place since 2007 — for an additional year.
Next week, the administration will present the 2012-2013 city budget — with a projected deficit of over $2 million — to the council for approval.
Last year, the police and public works unions did not negotiate for pay increases because of the city’s financial predicament.
City Administrator John Cardone said the union opened negotiations several weeks ago and understands that members are interested in the wording of contract provisions.
“City officials will get together and review the proposed changes from the union. At our next meeting with them, we will respond to their changes and submit our own,” Cardone said.
He said the union “recognizes the financial conditions of the city at this point.”
Union members are interested in amending the way work periods are defined and how call schedules are managed.
“We understand times are hard. They are hard for everybody. We also understand the city is coming back,” Desormeaux said. “Right now we want to get the contract cleaned up so then we can address money eventually.”
The administration and union have agreed to work on one-year contracts.
Desormeaux, who has participated in negotiations before, said the one-year deals make it easier to go back to the bargaining table since accurate municipal financial records are available and all parties are aware of immediate issues. In the past, contracts lasted three years.
“With the three-year contract, the city could have two good years and one bad one, and that made a difference in how contracts were made,” Desormeaux said. “We like the one-year deal.”
Cardone stressed that during a deficit year, the administration manages the budget from a conservative viewpoint.
“We will monitor revenues coming in and expenses,” he said. “Then we will hold nonessential work positions in an effort to reduce the deficit. That’s what we’ve done the past couple of years.”