Budget notebook: Final 2022 Bloomington budget released, $1,000 “retention pay” for police in 2021

Screenshot of a proposed amendment to the 2021 fire and police salary ordinance, to be given a first reading at the Bloomington city council’s Sept. 29 meeting.

The final 2022 budget, on which the Bloomington city council will be expected to take action in mid-October, was released late Friday afternoon.

It’s possible to find among the documents in the meeting information packet for Sept. 29 an additional $5,000 in pay for police officers.

But that figure does not mean a $5,000 increase in base pay this year, as called for in a city council resolution approved on Sept. 8.

Instead, what Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s administration appears to be proposing is to give officers an extra $1,000 in “retention pay” per quarter, starting in 2021.

There’s five quarters from now through the end of 2022. So an extra $1,000 for each of those quarters would add up to $5,000.

The city council’s Sept. 8 resolution, approved with support from seven of nine councilmembers, had called for Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s administration to reopen the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) now, and make effective this year a $5,000 base pay increase.

Increased pay for police officers, as a part of a recruitment and retention strategy, has been a focus for some city councilmembers over the last few months.

That’s because of the current disparity between the number of sworn officers employed by Bloomington’s department (91) and the number who are authorized (105). That disparity comes in the context of the 23 to 35 additional officers who will, according to the city’s annexation fiscal plans, be required to provide police protection to the new territory that the city council has decided to annex.

The CBA with the police union runs through 2022. The administration was opposed to the council’s Sept. 8 resolution, but indicated a willingness to start the bargaining process for the CBA earlier than it normally would—in the next couple of months.

Based on the documents in the city council’s meeting information packet, the administration is taking an approach where officers will get $1,000 as early as this year, and a total of $4,000 more in 2022, but apparently outside of the existing CBA.

To get officers the extra money will mean adopting two different ordinances: Ord 21-39, which is an amendment to the current police and fire salary ordinance (Ord 20-22) for the calendar year 2021; and a fresh salary ordinance, Ord 21-36, for police and fire in 2022.

A new line for this year’s police and fire salary ordinance (Ord 20-22) will read “Supervisory Sergeants, Officers First Class, and Senior Police Officers will receive an additional $1,000 in Retention Pay at the beginning of the fourth quarter.” The fourth quarter starts in October.

The police and fire salary ordinance for 2022 (Ord 21-36) reads “Officers First Class, Senior Police Officers, and Supervisory Sergeants will receive an additional $1,000 per quarter in Retention Pay.”

If approved by the city council, the current police and fire salary ordinance would also be revised to allow higher-ranking officers to be paid more, to avoid “wage compression” issues.

Captains would be moved up from salary Grade 9 to Grade 10. That means the range for captains would increase from $48,357–$87,042 to $53,193–$95,746.

Lieutenants would be bumped from salary Grade 8  to Grade 9. That means the range for lieutenants would increase from $43,960–$70,338 to $48,357–$87,042.

A new police and fire salary ordinance of some kind would be needed for 2022 in any case, even if police pay weren’t being increased. That’s because what is informally called the “annual budget” is actually a collection of six annual ordinances: three salary ordinances and three appropriation ordinances.

The three salary ordinances include: one for police officers and firefighters; one for all other union and non-union employees; and one for elected officials (mayor, clerk, and councilmembers).

The three appropriation ordinances include: one to set the tax rates; one to cover operation, maintenance, debt service and capital improvements for the water and wastewater utility; and one for Bloomington Transit.

The city council will get a first reading of all the budget ordinances on Wednesday, Sept. 29. A committee-of-the-whole meeting is set to follow the first readings, when the councilmembers could give some indication of their inclination to support the budget.

A question-and-answer document included in the Sept.  29 meeting information packet is also a place to pick up clues on councilmember attitudes towards the 2022 budget.

The public hearing for the budget is set for Oct. 13, which is also the occasion when the council could take a vote to enact the 2022 budget.

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