HOLLYWOOD(CBS4)- Officer of the Hollywood Police Department could see their salary reduced by 12.5 percent following negotiations Wednesday in which they were told to accept the pay cuts or prepare for massive job layoffs.
“We really have no choice. We don’t want our members losing jobs,” said Jeff Marano, Broward PBA senior vice president, and an officer in the Hollywood Police Department.
The Hollywood City Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal in a closed executive session Friday. If it agrees with the suggestion, it would set a meeting to adopt the proposal and the pay cuts could be implemented as early as next week, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
Non-union officers — those in senior management positions — have not received pay increases since 2007, but are likely to face salary cuts as well. And the city is also in negotiations with the union representing general employees to cut their salaries by 10 percent.
During Wednesday’s negotiations, PBA members indicated the fight was not over. Although members felt they had little choice for now, there is the possibility of taking it to litigation.
The proposed cuts come after the City Commission’s decision last month to declare Hollywood under a state of “financial urgency,” a move that allowed the city to renegotiate contracts with its unions.
Commissioners were compelled to make the call for financial urgency after learning that the city had a projected $8.5 million shortfall for the remaining months of this year’s budget, and a $25 million hole to fill for next year.
Mayor Peter Bober has publicly scolded the budget office and suggested heads should roll.
The city dipped into its rainy day fund for $7 million to tide it over through Oct. 1, the end of the current budget year. The quick fix also axed an additional $2.1 million from the current budget. When the dust settled, the city was left with just $2 million in that rainy day fund through the end of this fiscal year.
In Wednesday’s short negotiation, attorney Paul Ryder, on behalf of the city, argued it was the responsibility of the PBA to join with other city department representatives and contribute to the necessary cuts.
Michael Braverman, the PBA’s attorney, urged the city to keep the current PBA contract intact and instead siphon money from the downtown and beach Community Redevelopment Association funds. Between the two CRA zones, there is more than $40 million.
“You have to ask how the city could be broke on one side that deals with us, but on another — the Community Redevelopment Agency — they have tens of millions of dollars in reserve,’’ said Marano, the PBA senior vice president. “They have millions to build new fire stations on the beach and cover sidewalks not with cement but more expensive pavers.”
Braverman argued that $21 million of that has not been designated could be used to save jobs.
“What good are fancy pavers and beautiful archways and redevelopment and revitalization projects if you don’t have enough officers there to look after it,” Braverman said.
The city and the union have until June 13 to reach an agreement otherwise an impasse will be declared and the issue would then go to a special magistrate.
But under impact bargaining, the city has the right to implement the change immediately, which it needs to do in order to make up some of this year’s budget shortfall.
Earlier this week, the PBA sent a formal request toTallahasseethat the Bureau of Local Government investigate how Hollywood’s budget office could have missed an $8 million-plus shortfall till now.
Some within the PBA say the city was aware of the budget shortfall, but waited until now to announce it in order to be able to declare the state of emergency which allowed them to reopen negotiations with the unions.
State statute allows municipalities to force unions back to the bargaining table in a financial crisis, even if the contracts were signed recently.
The PBA andHollywood had renegotiated their contracts last fall, when the city called their pension package “exorbitant.’’
“When you look at the fact that 76 percent of our general fund expenditures are related to personnel costs, there’s really no way to cut further without seeking some help from the unions,” said city spokeswoman Raelin Storey.
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