Members of the Menlo Park Police Officers' Association will earn 12 percent in raises over the next three years under a contract the Menlo Park City Council approved Tuesday, Jan. 29.
Between now and Aug. 31, 2021, the 42 members of the Menlo Park Police Officers' Association which represents the city's rank-and-file officers, corporals and recruits will get an estimated cumulative increase of about $1.6 million in city funds for pay and benefits.
They will get an immediate 6 percent raise, representing 3 percent raises for both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years, followed by another 3 percent raise starting this July 1 and another 3.5 percent raise starting July 1, 2020. Those changes alone add up to more than $1.4 million.
"While this package may be viewed as a cumulative total of 12 percent over three years, such a summary does not consider the impact of late implementation," Administrative Services Director Lenka Diaz explained in a staff report. The changes will affect about five months' of the current fiscal year's budget and none of the previous fiscal year's, she added. The increases do fit within assumptions made by CalPERS, the state's pension agency, and its analyses of the city's pension liabilities, she added.
The salary ranges for police officers and corporals will rise based on the number of hours they work. For those who work 2,184 hours a year, the salary range for officers will be $102,807 to $124,962, up from a previous maximum of $117,889, and the new range for corporals will be $110,645 to $134,490, up from a previous maximum of $126,086. Officers who work 2,080 hours a year will have a new range of $97,911 to $119,012, and corporals who work that much will have a new range of $105,377 to $128,086. Officers and corporals are assigned specific work hours and can work more for overtime pay.
By comparison, the salary range for a police officer in Palo Alto is approximately $125,422 to $142,417, with more clearly defined hourly pay rates, according to the salary schedule on the city's website.
One consideration behind the increases is that recruiting officers to Menlo Park has been a challenge. According to Diaz, the city's efforts to recruit police personnel at another public agency in the same position to work for Menlo Park resulted in only one qualified candidate through all of 2017 and 2018.
"The city has had to rely on recruiting inexperienced candidates, and sponsoring qualified candidates in a police academy," she said. More than half of the candidates are unsuccessful and fail the testing, background, medical or training requirements necessary, she added.
Another reason for the increases is due to escalating costs of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. According to those consumer price measurements in the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose region, the index rose about 3.4 percent between February 2016 and February 2017, and 3.6 percent between February 2017 to February 2018. At the most recent count, a year-over-year measurement between October 2017 and October 2018, that figure was 4.4 percent.
The city will also increase its contribution to association members' "cafeteria" health plan by 2 percent in 2019 and 3 percent in 2020, estimated at a cost of $75,600.
Association members will also receive 58 hours of leave that must be used or cashed out by March 23, an estimated value of $153,500.
Finally, a minor increase in pay for on-call detectives will cost about $3,700 for the duration of the contract.
According to Diaz, these terms were a long time coming. Negotiations began in March 2017. In August 2017, the negotiating parties agreed to involve a mediator. Progress moved forward, but in the interim, a number of undisclosed problems arose. Then it was the holiday season, during which, in keeping with policy, the City Council will not discuss tentative labor contracts, so the matter was delayed until notice could be given in advance of the council's Jan. 29 meeting.