The next Santa Ana City Council meeting will be a contentious one as the big topic of debate will be a new contract with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association (POA) – the union that represents our police officers. The meeting is set for Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 5:45 p.m.. at the City Council Chamber, located at 22 Civic Center Plaza.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that has been negotiated by the Santa Ana City Council and the POA amounts to a 2.5% retroactive pay increase and a 4% pay increase this year, as well as a 4% pay increase next year. The total pay increase will come to 13%.
The response thus far from some in the community has been bordering on hysteria so let’s take a look at some facts that have perhaps been overlooked:
- The POA has 456 POA employees not the 465 that are listed on the city’s staff report.
- There are currently 111 vacancies in the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), as noted by the City on their midyear budget report on the agenda #65C – on page 31. That is approximately $12M dollars in budgeted surplus.
- Agenda #65C – exhibit 3 shows an SAPD budget of $132M and “actual” expenditures of 62M YTD. That’s a $6.4M dollar projected surplus in SAPD budget alone.
- The City’s own numbers show either a $12M surplus in the 61 funded vacancies or $6.4M surplus in “actuals” budgeting. At $750K per 1% the annual cost of raise is approx. $4M.
- CPI is 3-4%. The $4M dollar per year contract is less than 3% of the SAPD’s budget & 1.5% of the City’s budget. 3-5% is usually the margin of error in any budgeting allotted.
- If the SAPD is 49% of the City’s budget then in theory Measure X funds, 49% of which is $30M, should go to the SAPD. No Measure X funds are however actually needed for the SAPD as budgeted vacancies can absorb the added budget.
- Staff compounds raises in a graph to a total of $25M (which is inaccurate) but does not compare the SAPD budgeted compounded for the same period, which would be $408M including a 3% annual increase.
- In total for 2018 – 2019’s budget, City staff revised their estimated revenue from $254M to $262M thus passing a historic sales tax when there was actually about a $12M dollar surplus – misleading the voters as the projected expenditures are $255M and that includes the SAPD MOU.
- The Santa Ana School PD received a 2 year contract with a 14% increase.
- The LAPD received a 1 year 5% pay boost.
- Many police departments are in negotiations right now but on average pay increases of 4-8% are common with 5% raises being the average.
- The MOU with the POA is a 3 year contract with a 13% pay increase. Consider that the SAPD is not at the top or competitive part of the market and is the only City agency with astronomical vacancies.
Public safety is the number one issue in our city. Santa Ana is a lot more dangerous than surrounding cities. Many of our top police officers over the past few years have left for greener pastures in part due to the lower pay here and also because of our previous Police Chief, who was a total disaster. This is one of the reasons we continue to have so many vacancies in the SAPD.
If we want to keep our younger police officers here and attract good veteran officers to Santa Ana then we are going to have to pay these officers at minimum market rate and remain competitive. This is the only way to attract the best, which minimizes liabilities. Our community deserves and demands the best possible when it comes to public safety.
Over the past few years the City Council majority, led by now termed out City Councilman Sal Tinajero, handed out raises to the City’s top executives and bamboozled the voters into giving the City Council a raise too. Many who are now complaining about the POA increase were silent when those other raises were handed out!
The numbers clearly show that we can afford the POA increase. Don’t be fooled by the hysteria from some quarters. A safe Santa Ana is a city that can prosper.