Layoff notices for six Antioch police officers have been delayed until Jan. 21, due in large part to talks of donations from the community.
According to City Manager Jim Jakel, no money has changed hands yet, but city officials “have leads” on roughly $50,000 coming from local businesses and citizens to aid the police department. In addition to that, Antioch Auto Center president Tom Nokes promised in a December City Council meeting to match any donations up to $100,000. Previously, Nokes also purchased bulletproof vests for SWAT team members.
“We’ve been doing business here for 23 years, and the city’s been good to us,” said Brian Nokes, Tom’s son and Auto Center vice president. “We want to make sure that our city stays good. We feel like sometimes, you start laying off police officers, and where does it stop?”
The city and the Antioch Police Officers Association are still negotiating whether or not to fully extend concessions made last year, such as pay raises and cost of living adjustments.
Jakel and Mayor Jim Davis said Friday that Thursday's negotiation session went well, adding that a resolution might be reached by the end of next week.
"The police department is doing a great job working with the city," Davis said, "and the city is doing a great job working with the police department."
Based on the prospective donations, APOA president Tom Fuhrmann said that his group voted on Tuesday to keep those concessions in place until at least Jan. 21. That window will allow the six officers, whose layoffs would have started Jan. 2, to keep their jobs for two more weeks.
“It is heartening to know that people are willing to donate to support these essential services,” Jakel said. “It’s kind of the opposite of the feeling (we got) when Measure P failed.”
Jakel and Davis have been meeting with Fuhrmann and Nokes throughout the past couple of weeks. With those conversations in mind, officers agreed to provide a little more breathing room by continuing the concessions for a short time.
Though officers expressed anger at the beginning of the negotiation, Fuhrmann feels that a deal can be reached amicably. “I think that there’s confidence in the ability of both sides to get the tasks accomplished,” Fuhrmann said. “If there wasn’t that confidence at that table, then the city manager wouldn’t have continued.”
Jakel echoed Furhmann’s thoughts, noting that both sides have been pushing hard for a deal in order to avoid further layoffs. Jakel would like to meet with APOA officials before the City Council meeting on Tuesday, and if necessary, set up more meetings before Jan. 21. “No one will be able to accuse us of not having tried,” said Jakel.
While the officers are grateful for the donations, Furhmann said the city still has a long way to go before it achieves solvency. According to Jakel, even if the concessions are agreed upon for this full year, Antioch must bridge a deficit of about $1.27 million by June 30, when the fiscal year ends.
As it stands now, police services account for roughly $26.2 million of the city’s $38.2 million budget.
“We’re needing to come up with creative solutions for over $1 million,” Furhmann said. “To really put a value on how much (the donation) helps, I can’t tell you right now. But every portion helps.”