Menlo proposal: Freeze pay for police sergeants


It's hard to think of a more hot-button topic in Menlo Park right now than public employee compensation. As the result of a new dedication to transparent labor negotiations, the city released a memo outlining proposed terms for a renewed contract with the Menlo Park Police Sergeants Association two weeks in advance of the contract going before the council for approval on May 24.

The proposal would freeze the salaries of Menlo Park's eight sergeants for two years. The previous contract provided an average 3 percent pay raise every six months since January 2009.

Four sergeants who work patrol shifts would see their annual patrol hours cut by 104, which the staff report estimates would save $36,000. Automatic health benefit increases, where the city would pay 85 percent of any increase, also got the ax.

For new hires, the union agreed to provide pension benefits using a "3 percent at 55" formula based on the average of the highest three years' salary. The staff report notes that as many as six new sergeants may be hired by 2012 as older officers retire. According to the police department, all eight of the current sergeants were promoted from within the organization, and have served six to 30 years in Menlo Park, with an average of 18 years.

Do the changes represent actual savings? Ed Moritz, one of the driving forces behind the pension reform initiative passed in November, isn't sure. Describing the staff report as deficient in several critical areas, he asked the city to provide a comparison of pay levels between the sergeants and FBI employees. "The Council asked for this in the opening discussion in early April. It's disappointing the staff seemed to have ignored this direct Council request," he said in an email. "It's the only way the public will know what pay level is reasonable and competitive."

Other areas he'd like to see explored are reducing the percent value between pay steps -- currently at 5 percent -- or a promise to take no steps for the duration of the two-year contract; increasing employee pension contributions; and discussing sick leave, which the report fails to include.

The proposal does increase employee pension contributions from 9 to 12 percent, with an estimated annual savings of $39,000. Mr. Moritz suggested that should be even larger, saying that the sergeants are among the highest paid employees and will receive the highest retirement benefits. "At the same time the city portion will be 21% and is projected to rise to over 30% in the next several years," he wrote, based on CalPERS projections for police employees.

Click here to read the proposed agreement and staff report.

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Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 11, 2011 at 9:06 am

maybe menlo fire fighters should read and digest this bit of info,
instead of looking for more money, things "ain't" so hot right now.

Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

It is a start. A good one at that.

BUT... it is all in vain if we continue to pay LARGE SALARIES ($250k) to our city manager, who also gets HOUSING BONUSES, VEHICLE BONUSES, BONUSES FOR THE HECK OF IT, LOW-INTEREST LOANS, and an assistant who makes too much as well.

Let's hope that the city council wakes up and pays a realistic and down-to-earth salary for the new city manager, a PUBLIC employee.

Like this comment
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

The city of Menlo Park pays above the national average and the penninsula average in EVERY job.

Menlo Park pays a riduculous amount for jobs that are equivalent in the private sector (administrators, office managers, etc) This visciopus sycle is driven by a council with little or no REAL business experience and a city management that personally benifits from this salary inflation. It is a road to ruin as these employees pensions come due.

It needs to stop.

The city of San Jose is firing more than 120 officers so there is no shortage in the classic "Supply Demand" world of people to fill openings. we should be reducing their pay not holding it steady. we should be asking them to cover ALL of their ridiculous pensions, or at least the portion over what hte city pays it's other employees (2%/60). THe city and it's managers and council need to get their fiscal act together and serve the people rather than it's employees.....

Roy Thiele-Sardina

Like this comment
Posted by Arn
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

3% every 6 months since Jan 2009, that is 6% a year over 2 years to Jan 2011 is 12% increase in the middle of a recession. I would say a freeze for 2 years after a12% increase the past two years is a sweet deal. Don't think asking for financial givebacks in addition is unfair.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

San Jose PD officers have had to give back 10% AND they are still laying off 120 officers. In addition, I think something like 20 sergeants are being DEMOTED. They think a wage freeze is a big deal? Time to join the real world!

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