The agreement will be voted on by the Antioch City Council at its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, March 8. Though neither party could publicize the specifics of the agreement, City Manager Jim Jakel said it contains provisions similar to those in other city-union agreements, such as increased employee contributions to retirement funds plus concessions pertaining to salary increases and cost-of-living adjustments. More details will be released at the City Council meeting.
“For now, we have an agreement that both parties are satisfied with, but maybe not thrilled with,” Jakel said. “For the sake of the employees, I felt we needed to come to some sort of agreement.”
The decision to lay off the six sworn officers was made in December, after Jakel was authorized by the council to cut $500,000 from the city’s budget. However, negotiations between the city and the police association went well, as talks of donations from the community and Antioch Auto Center President Tom Nokes kept delaying the pink slips.
Nokes, who also purchased bulletproof vests for SWAT team members, plans to match donations from residents, up to $100,000.
In closed session last week, the city and police came to an agreement that would continue officers’ concessions through the rest of the calendar year. Sgt. Tom Fuhrmann, the head of the Antioch Police Officers Association, said the two sides would continue talking throughout the year in an effort to come to a lengthier and more stable agreement. The current contract of which the concessions are a part ends in August of 2013.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Fuhrmann said. “Everybody wants to do the best for themselves and their families, but we recognize the need for the officers and those that are working.”
Though the agreed-upon concessions will end Dec. 31, both sides were confident more ground would be covered throughout the year in order to avoid an ongoing ordeal similar to the recent one that left six cops unsure of their job status. Most recently, the layoff notices were supposed to go out on March 1.
“We fully anticipate that we’ll be in continued talks throughout the year and monitoring the situation and the city’s budget,” Fuhrmann said. “It’s a big relief. It gives us a little bit of breathing room and a little bit of stability, at least for the time being. We know that we’re not over it yet and we need to continue to monitor what’s going on with city finances.”
Despite the concessions, the city must still bridge a budget gap of about $1.27 million by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Right now, police services account for roughly $26.2 million of Antioch’s $38.2 million budget.
Jakel noted that the city’s coffers and staffing levels are stretched thin. He said Tuesday that Bill Gegg, Antioch’s director of information systems, plans to retire, and his position will not be filled.
“We’re still, throughout the organization, not in a position to be hiring,” Jakel said. “We continue to have attrition throughout the organization.”