February 2nd, 2011 12:18 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: City Hall, Politics, Cops and Courts, Cops and Courts

City Hall: Commissioners Approve Police Contract (Updated)

Portland City Hall in JanuaryPortland City Council earlier this year.

Portland city commissioners unanimously voted to approve a new three-year contract with the police union  that gives the 900 union members a 2-percent raise in exchange for concessions on overtime, police oversight and random drug testing.

And while other City of Portland unions gave up cost-of-living increases in 2010 in light of the recession (see update below), Commissioner Randy Leonard called today's deal with the Portland Police Association "an historic agreement" because of those other concessions.

Today's vote comes more than a month after the police association reached a tentative agreement on the deal, which was first detailed in WW in December.

The new deal which had been under negotiation for more than a year says city officials will test officers randomly for drugs like marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines—but not steroids. Although the agreement gives management the authority to test officers for steroid use, which Human Resources Director Yvonne Deckard acknowledges "is a problem," those tests are currently too costly for the city to justify, Deckard says.

"That technology is still in the making," she says. (Side note: Any officers found to be abusing drugs will be offered treatment first under the new agreement.)

The city's budget gurus put the cost of the new contract at $5.5 million to $6.1 million for the life of the contract and $3.7 million a year after it expires in about 1 2 1/2 years. Here's more:

The estimated fiscal impact of implementing the new PPA labor agreement during the three-year contract period is approximately $5.5 million in base wages and other costs.  In addition, costs may increase by another $650,000 if overtime remains at its current level.  However, the contract contains provisions related to comp time that may help the Police Bureau control the scheduling of shifts and reduce overtime going forward.

 In addition to the costs noted above, the PPA contract will also impact the City's five-year financial forecast.  The three-year contract costs noted above reflect the fact that certain provisions (physical fitness premium and education premium) have a delayed implementation date. The annualized cost of the fully implemented contract, if extended into the next labor agreement, will be approximately $3.7 million a year starting in FY 2013-14. This amounts to approximately a 4.1% increase in PPA wages and wage-driven benefits. Financial Planning will add these costs to the five-year forecast when we update the forecast in late April.  Since the City balances over five years, these increased costs will have a material impact on the resources available in FY 2011-12 and beyond unless offset by unexpected revenue growth.

Mayor Sam Adams called the deal the "most aggressive set of police reforms...in a generation."

Update at 2:45 pm: The Portland Police Association also gave up cost-of-living increases in 2010, so the sentence in the second paragraph requires some clarification. The difference between the police union agreement and other new labor contracts is that police will get an across-the-board increase of 2 percent plus a cost-of-living increase pegged to the consumer price index in July 2011. The other unions will get the cost-of-living bump but no across-the-board raises then.

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