On a unanimous vote, Bloomington’s city council has approved a new labor agreement with its police union, which has been unsigned since it was ratified in early March by a vote of the FOP Lodge 88.
The council’s action came at its regular meeting on Wednesday.
The highlight of the new four-year deal, which starts in 2023, is more pay for police officers. In the first year of the agreement, the contract calls for a base salary increase of around 13 percent, which works out to around $7,800 a year. Increases in each subsequent year are around 3 percent.
On Wednesday, it was city attorney Mike Rouker who reviewed for city councilmembers the legal and political nuts and bolts of the deal.
Among the political points was the fact that Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton made the new labor deal contingent on the city council’s recent approval of an increase in the local income tax.
Rouker pegged the direct fiscal impact of the new agreement over four years at $4,917,000. Rouker called it “a truly unprecedented investment in public safety and in our police officers.”
The significant increase in pay is meant to help Bloomington’s police department contend with challenges in recruitment and retention.
On Wednesday, FOP Lodge 88 president Paul Post addressed that issue when he spoke during public commentary time. After thanking councilmembers for their support—they’d passed a resolution last year calling on the administration to increase officer pay—Post reminded them of the current staffing levels.
In the 2022 budget, 105 sworn officers are authorized. Only 85 are currently serving in the department.
Post told the city council, “I will remind you that BPD remains 20 officers short of fully staffed.” He continued, “And we hope that recently announced incentives of the retention bonuses, housing benefits and hiring bonuses, combined with this contract will help BPD begin to refill those staffing losses.”
The hiring bonus mentioned by Post is a $5,000 incentive, which was announced by the administration a week after the city council approved the increase to the local income tax.
Post also expressed some caution about the impact of the new contract. He said, “I’ll also note here, that while a massive improvement over years past, this contract remains a good first step in BPD becoming competitive to our peers around the state.”
Post also pointed to the increased sworn officers beyond the 105 currently authorized, which will be needed, if Bloomington’s planned annexations make their way through the courts. Post said, “If we’re going to achieve that goal of annexation, we’re going to have to provide adequate police service once it comes. And that’s a very timely process. And we need to begin now to fill those spots.”
In his remarks on Wednesday, councilmember Dave Rollo said he wanted to see the impact of the new contract on recruitment of new officers. “We should be able to see it within months,” Rollo said. He continued, “So if the administration would report back to us at some point in terms of the success of that, that would be really helpful for us, we think, looking forward.”
City council president Susan Sandberg had been appointed by her colleagues to be present on the council’s behalf during the contract negotiations.
About the conversations she saw, Sandberg said on Wednesday, “It was fair. It was robust. It took a while.” Sandberg added, “And I will say that, in particular, the FOP team did a wonderful job coming forward and speaking about the issues currently in the Bloomington Police Department.”
Table: Year-by-year base salaries specified in the existing, new BPD labor agreements
|YEAR||Officer First Class||PCT increase||Senior Police Officer||PCT increase|