One piece of unfinished business from Oct. 10, when the Bloomington city council approved the rest of the 2020 budget was the salary ordinance for police officers and firefighters.
That final piece of business could be finished by the end of the year, after a meeting on Oct. 24, between city officials and the police union. The city presented the union with its latest proposal for a contract, president of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Paul Post told The Beacon.
In late September, union officers told the city council at regular meeting that since mid-2018, the two sides had exchanged eight proposals, each with a counterproposal, for a total of 16 proposals. The most recent meeting would make nine rounds for a total of 18 proposals exchanged.
The city’s most recent proposal could lead to ratification by the union, and the approval of the salary ordinance for public safety workers by the end of the year. The contract for the firefighters is not an open question, but the salary ordinance lumps police officers and firefighters into the same piece of legislation.
Without an approved salary ordinance in place for next year, the city’s controller will not have authorization to pay public safety workers. The current contract expired at the end of 2018, but police officers have been working under a so-called “evergreen” clause for the past year, for the same salaries they received in 2018.
According to Post, the union has not yet seen the city’s latest proposal in written form. After it’s reviewed by the union’s attorney, it’ll be put it to a vote of the union membership, Post said. There is no deadline for the vote, he said, but both sides understand the time constraints as the end of the year approaches.
According to Post, the mediator led the discussions on Oct. 24, and the talks focused on salary and shift bidding based on seniority. Talks between the city and the union started in mid-2018.
On Oct. 10, councilmembers voted unanimously to table the police/fire salary ordinance, after it became apparent to them that passing the proposed ordinance would have set police salaries for 2020 at the same level as last year. And last year’s level was the same as the year before, which was 2018.
The Oct. 24 meeting was on the calendar when councilmembers deliberated, and they were hopeful that the meeting would result in an agreement.
The city budget is a six-piece legislative package, consisting of: tax rates and appropriations; budget for Bloomington Transit; budget for City of Bloomington Utilities; salary ordinance for elected officials; salary ordinance for non-police/fire employees; and the salary ordinance for police officers and firefighters. All six items require a separate vote by the city council.
While the tax rates and appropriations have a statutory deadline at the end of October, the salary ordinances do not.