CALEXICO – After months of wrangling back and forth, the Calexico City Council Wednesday voted 4-0 to approve and extend the Calexico Police Officers Association contract for an 18-month term. Councilwoman Maritza Hurtado was not present during the meeting.
The Letter of Understanding (LOU) states the Calexico Police Officers Association (CPOA) agreed to a 30.865 percent of across-the-board base salary reduction. This represents an overall savings to the city of $564,077 in general funds that would ultimately whittle down the city’s $3.9 million deficit.
At a prior meeting on November 16, as a possible alternative to lowering the city’s $3.9 million deficit, the city council voted in favor of seeking alternatives for public safety and law enforcement after not coming to an understanding with the CPOA. The decision was made after the Calexico City Manager Armando Villa elaborated on the city’s deficit, saying over the last five years the city had spent between 50 to 75 percent of the $17 million city general budget on public safety costs.
Immediately following the November 16 announcement, community members began expressing their concerns and dissatisfaction towards the city possibly outsourcing to the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department. Several rallys and town hall meeting took place ultimately resulting in positive negotiations.
According to LOU specifications, the new negotiated salary rate will be in effect for a total of 18 months from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018, at which time negotiations can be initiated once again.
CPOA President Sean Acuña took the opportunity to thank the community for the tremendous support the department received during the negotiation process as well as the board members and city manager.
“I want to thank the community for the unwavering support they provided the last few months during the negotiation process,” said Acuña. “I want to thank the council and the city manager for working with us and coming to a resolution. It was a hard thing to do, but after seeing the support of the community, we had to rise to the occasion and take a concession that the city needed in order to save the police department and save the city. Even though it’s hard, we are still going to charge and move forward.”
Furthermore, the LOU states all police officers hired on or after the adoption of the LOU shall be subject to a modified salary scale of a 10 percent reduction and will have an at-will capacity during an 18-month probation period.
During a telephone interview on January 17 with The Desert Review, Villa said the Calexico city council had directed him to move forward with the LOU and present the final draft to the board on January 25 during the regular council meeting.
At that time, Villa also said other negotiations with the Fire Fighters Association, the city supervisors and water operators were still pending, and they are working towards implementing a balanced budget.