San Bernardino will not give 9% pay raises to the police chief and assistant police chief following a late-night vote Wednesday, Nov. 6.
At about 11:30 p.m., council members Sandra Ibarra, Juan Figueroa, Fred Shorett and Jim Mulvihill denied the staff recommendation to increase the duo’s respective salaries to meet the average compensation of police leaders from Lancaster, Torrance, Santa Rosa, Thousand Oaks, Glendale, Jurupa Valley, Temecula, Moreno Valley, San Buena Ventura and Vallejo.
Councilwoman Bessine Richard was absent from the meeting.
The 9% raises would have resulted in a cumulative bump of about $44,000 for the top cop and top assistant, who received 3.5% raises in August along with all police personnel. While some of the money needed to increase their salaries Wednesday was accounted for in the fiscal 2019-20 budget, an additional $37,000 was needed to complete the adjustments.
Despite their interim titles, acting Chief Eric McBride and acting assistant Chief David Green were to receive the pay hikes.
Per an expiring agreement between San Bernardino and the Police Management Association, both parties surveyed and ranked 58 cities with populations between 100,000 and 250,000 by what they pay their top police officials.
The assessment found that even with the 3.5% raises, San Bernardino would have to increase the salaries of the chief and assistant chief by 9% and 8.81%, respectively, to meet the average compensation of the middle 10 cities surveyed. This, despite San Bernardino ranking a distant last among the group in per capita and average household income, according to figures provided by Transparent California, a government pay watchdog group.
Though not a classification in the agreement between the city and the Police Management Association, past councils have increased the police chief’s salary to meet the results of prior surveys and prevent compaction between the chief and assistant chief.
Wednesday, a majority of city leaders bucked that practice.
“We’re not the same city we were five years ago,” Mulvihill said ahead of the vote. “This year we cut down 5 to 7% across the board. I don’t know if revenues are increasing at all. We’re drawing down our reserves. My position is fiscal discipline. If we’re running a business and make this decision, we’re not doing very good business.”
Councilman Theodore Sanchez saw the staff recommendation in a different light.
“We made a commitment to the people who are protecting us and risking their lives,” he said before moving to approve the item. “We made a commitment to them to pay out these raises. Now that it’s inconvenient for us to pay out these raises would really put the city in a dark place.”