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Youngstown council rejects proposed deal with police patrol union

By David Skolnick

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Patrol officers start off making $14.93 an hour

By David Skolnick


City council rejected a fact-finder’s recommendation on pay raises for its police patrol union because of a provision that would add $246,216 in additional costs in December 2020.

Council voted 6-1 Wednesday against accepting the nonbinding settlement.

The city administration was “comfortable” with the recommendation from the fact-finder, Michael King, for raises of 1.25 percent, retroactive to Dec. 1, 2018, and 1 percent annual raises starting in Dec. 1 this year and Dec. 1, 2020, Deputy Law Director Dana Lantz said.

The city had sought no pay raises over the life of the deal, while the 98-member police patrol union asked for 2.5 percent annual raises for the three-year contract.

But what led to the rejection of King’s recommendation, Lantz and interim Finance Director Kyle Miasek said, was a provision that eliminated three of the 12 steps patrol officers currently have to attain to get to the top of the pay scale that would take effect Dec. 1, 2020.

Accepting that provision would result in police officers automatically moving up three pay steps, Lantz and Miasek said.

An officer currently with six years’ experience is paid $38,813 annually. On Dec. 1, 2020, under King’s recommendation, an officer with six years’ experience would get $48,984 annually.

That change alone would cost the city $246,216 on Dec. 1, 2020, which it cannot afford, Miasek said.

Between the step change and the salary increases, King’s proposal would cost the city $435,612 by Dec. 1, 2020, for the patrol union, Miasek said.

Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th and chairwoman of the finance committee, was the lone no vote.

“It’s absolutely sad the administration says we can’t afford our safety forces, and they’re doing nothing to increase revenues,” she said. “How can we ask businesses and residents to invest in the city when we’re not?”

As for the reduction in steps, McNally said the administration should have been better prepared during fact-finding.

Also, the police department’s ranking officers union is paid based on what the patrol union receives. For example, a detective sergeant gets 15 percent more in salary than a patrol officer, and a lieutenant gets 15 percent more in salary than a detective sergeant.

The salary increase would cost the city an additional $113,642 by Dec. 1, 2020, for the ranking officers union, Miasek said.

The patrol union said “they are grossly underpaid and that some working Youngstown, Ohio, police are included in those poverty statistics for families of four,” King wrote in his report. “Despite this reality, city officials have approached the last several rounds of negotiation[s] with a demand for zero wage increases.”

The starting annual salary for a patrol officer in Youngstown is $31,054, or $14.93 an hour.

“Youngstown police officers often start at lower rates than their peers and never close the gap,” King wrote.

The city police department has “a retention problem because of the starting salary,” Lantz said.

It takes 12 years for a patrol officer to get to the top of the scale, which is $56,326 annually, or $27.08 an hour.

The administration wants to negotiate further with the patrol union, Lantz said. But if an agreement can’t be reached, the issue goes to binding arbitration.