Almanac

News - May 15, 2013

Police contract talks on Atherton agenda

by Renee Batti

A session to allow the public to comment on upcoming contract talks between the town and the police union, and potential changes in the city manager's contract, are on the agenda when the Atherton City Council meets on Wednesday, May 15.

The town has prepared an eight-page report detailing current compensation and staffing levels of the police department, as well as of non-emergency employees. In an unprecedented move, the council is asking residents to comment on what they think should be considered as contract talks with the police union get under way this month.

City Manager George Rodericks said he is modeling the session on a recent Menlo Park City Council meeting giving residents in the neighboring town an opportunity to raise concerns and offer suggestions on how that city should proceed with labor talks.

The contract with the 22 represented employees of the police department expires Sept. 30, and the police union, the Atherton Police Officers' Association (APOA), has sent mailings to residents warning them of a potential exodus of officers if the town demands compensation cuts similar to those recently imposed on non-represented employees, including the police chief and city manager.

The report shows that 87.5 percent of the town's personnel costs go toward police department compensation. The high figure is accounted for, in part, by the fact that the police department has 25 employees; there are only nine non-emergency employees.

The report also includes facts and figures dealing with the escalating post-employment costs the town must pay, such as for retirement and post-retirement health care.

Go to tinyurl.com/AthertonPay and search (using Ctrl-f) for "Item No. 16" to see the report.

Regarding Item No. 21, a discussion and possible action on proposed changes to the city manager's contract, Mr. Rodericks said he doesn't know what changes might be proposed. "The council is set to meet in closed session (before the public meeting) that same evening regarding my performance appraisal," he said in an email. "The item is on the agenda should they desire to make adjustments."

In January, Mr. Rodericks asked the council to consider adjusting his salary upward after deciding he wouldn't be living in the town-owned house in Holbrook-Palmer Park, a residence traditionally occupied by the city manager and considered part of his or her compensation.

Mr. Rodericks was hired last October with an annual salary of $160,000 and a monthly transportation allowance of $2,500 until June, when the move to Atherton would occur.

In a staff report for the January council meeting, Mr. Rodericks said that, since his hiring, "personal challenges to using the house" as his primary residence had developed.

At that time, it was apparent that not all council members would be agreeable to such an adjustment. Mayor Elizabeth Lewis appointed herself and Councilman Jerry Carlson as a subcommittee that would try to work out a plan to allow Mr. Rodericks to continue living in his Marin County home while possibly increasing his salary.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center.

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