City Council narrowly rejects specialty pay for Austin police officers amid ongoing contract negotiations

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Certain stipends for Austin police officers that expired last month amid continued labor contract negotiations will not be reinstated following a City Council vote Thursday.

The council voted 5-4-1, with Mayor Steve Adler, council members Pio Renteria, Leslie Pool, Kathie Tovo and Delia Garza voting yay; council members Jimmy Flannigan, Alison Alter, Ora Houston and Greg Casar voting nay. Council Member Ann Kitchen abstained and Council Member Ellen Troxclair was off the dais, which sealed the rejection as the item needed six yay votes to pass.

In question were extra-salary stipends for officers for working night shifts, earning certifications and certain levels of education, court time and clothing.

The Austin Police Department, or APD, has been operating without a contract since Dec. 29. After the council rejected a contract Dec. 13, it voted to reinstate the specialty stipends Feb. 15. That stipend extension expired May 24 as the contract negotiations between the city and the Austin Police Association—the police union—have yet to end in agreement.

In their vote against the item, Alter and Flannigan said the city twice offered the Austin Police Association an interim agreement that would have reinstated the specialty stipends in question and given officers a base pay raise of 1.25 percent for the current fiscal year. The union rejected the offers. Kitchen cited the union’s rejection as a reason for her abstention.

At the time, Chris Perkins, the union’s bargaining chairman and 19-year APD veteran said the union’s position was that the community would benefit more from a long-term contract rather than an interim agreement.

The council’s vote comes on the same day that longtime interim chief Brian Manley was officially named chief of police.

Austin police officers are the highest paid in Texas by roughly 14 percent. It remains uncertain when the contract negotiations will come to an end.

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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