Irwindale Police Officer and Union President John Fraijo could not be reached by press time when the story about the budget deficit in Irwindale ran over the weekend.
Police officers refused to forgo their 4 percent salary increase, as outlined in their contract that expires next year. the city asked all employees to forgo their cost of living adjustment this year in light of a projected deficit.
When I spoke to Fraijo today, here is what he had to say about the recent article, reaction and negotiations with the city and the 34-member police union:
“Unfortunately, the article has unfairly damaged the reputation of our members. The article makes it sound like we are the reason the city is in a deficit, when in fact our cost of living adjustment, the 4 percent, is only equally to $160,000, and the city’s proposed budget has a $1.6 million deficit built in it.
Our 4 percent is equal to $160,000, and the city’s proposed budget is $1.6 million — which is 10 percent.
We are not demanding a raise, we are only going forward with terms of 2 year contract that the city mutually agreed to only a year ago. The 4 percent cost of living adjustment was a concession on our part even after the last salary survey completed showed our salary ranking was eight of the ten local surveyed cities. Our members are not being greedy; we sat down with department administrators and city officials approximately three months ago, when they said the city’s projected deficit continued to rise to over $1 million because of mismanagement.
We sat down about three months ago when city’s deficit was projected to rise. At the time, they asked us to work with them, change the schedule, and agree to a change in our contract that would lower the amount of officers assigned to a shift.
This was not an agreement to cut back on overtime, and instead of the city acknowledging our contributions toward lower costs, they publicly stated that they could have imposed the changes even if we didn’t agree to it.
Although the city manager pointed out the cost of services are rising in the article, he also publicly, in front of council, advised the council against the change to Sheriff’s. I can assure you that my members are completely committed toward providing a quality service to both residents and members of our business community.
Obviously, the budget deficit was not created by one department in particular.”