SFPD officers to see pay increase

San Francisco police officers are in line to receive a 23 percent salary hike during a four-year period, according to the terms of a recently negotiated contract.

With the double-digit salary increase, The City’s police salary costs would increase next fiscal year alone by $9 million, from the $263 million spent on police compensation this year.

On July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year, wages for The City’s 2,237 police officers — from frontlines officers up to deputy chiefs — would increase by 4 percent on July 1. First-year officers, who are paid about $65,000, would receive an additional 4 percent raise — for a combined 8 percent raise — on July 1.

On Dec. 29, an across-the-board raise of 2 percent would kick in and salaries would increase again in the first half of each of the subsequent three fiscal years by 7 percent, 6 percent and 4 percent.

“It’s a market wage. We didn’t give them more than what the market dictated,” said Steve Ponder, compensation manager with The City’s Department of Human Resources.

The current four-year contract, which expires June 30, had granted pay raises totaling 15.2 percent, according to Ponder.

Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Chief of Staff Phil Ginsburg said The City is losing about 115 officers a year, mostly to retirement, and there is a need to stay competitive in terms of compensation to be able to recruit and retain officers. The City aims not only to backfill those positions, but also add more police officers, he said. Ginsburg said police departments nationwide are losing a large number of officers to retirement.

Ginsburg praised the contract for including a pilot program to encourage officers to live in The City by offering up to $20,000 as a forgivable loan for first-time homebuyers and $5,000 for rental or relocation assistance.

The total increase in compensation for the police officers in the next fiscal year is valued at about $13.6 million, but cost savings negotiated into the contract — such as restrictions on the use of overtime and the decrease in the number of sick-leave hours that can be cashed out — is expected to offset the cost to The City and lower the price tag to about $9 million. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who chairs the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, which will hold the board’s first hearing on the contract, said he supports the contract because it will make the Police Department’s salaries more competitive with neighboring cities.

“Our police officers are 11 percent underfunded when you compare them to other jurisdictions in the Bay Area,” Elsbernd said. “If we are going to recruit officers into the finest police department in the country, we’ve got to pay them appropriately.”

Supervisor Chris Daly said he is against the contract. “The mayor wants to hand a golden contract to the POA in an election year. It’s good politics for Gavin Newsom but bad public policy,” Daly said. He added, “I think it’s a little bit too much given all the other competing priorities in the budget.”

Police Officers’ Association President Gary Delagnes characterized the salary increase as fair and equitable. “It puts us at a level where we are going to be able to compete with San Jose and Oakland,” Delagnes said. “We believe The City stepped up and did the right thing.

The Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee may vote on the contract as soon as June 11.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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