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Police union, city reach agreement on pay

February 9, 2019

City of Rio Rancho report

City of Rio Rancho administration and the Rio Rancho Police and Dispatchers Association have reached an agreement regarding an updated contract.

Union members voted to approve the new agreement on?Jan. 30. The contract includes raising starting officer salaries and a more rapid advancement through their career progression plan, allowing them to promote through the ranks more quickly and earn higher pay.

For example, new hire cadets will earn $20 per hour rather than the current $17.65 per hour. A mid-level officer with eight years on the force will now be a senior officer making $28 per hour rather than an advanced officer making $23.28 an hour.

Officers will now top out at the master officer level, making $30 an hour in their 12th?year, rather than in their 15th year.

“This has been a lengthy and challenging process, but in the end, it was worth those efforts,” said Police Chief Stewart Steele.

“We appreciate everyone involved, but we would like to specifically thank Mayor Hull and the city council, city administration, the association and, of course, the men and women of the Rio Rancho Police Department. They are the front line of safety in our community. This contract demonstrates that the people of Rio Rancho are serious about taking care of those who protect others.”

This updated agreement is in addition to the police department’s modified retention and recruitment efforts to give newly hired lateral officers, or officers with experience in another agency, one year of service credit for each year served in another department, up to 10 years.

“Public safety is our top priority, and this updated agreement clearly demonstrates this fact,” said Mayor Gregg Hull. “For nearly a year, city staff has been working on a long-term, fiscally responsible solution that would benefit public safety personnel and, in turn, our great community of Rio Rancho. I want to commend city staff, officials and union members for working diligently and collaboratively on this agreement.”

The process for establishing all union contracts is for city administration and union officials to negotiate an agreement, have the union membership ratify the proposed contract and then present the contract to the Rio Rancho Governing Body for final approval.

In order to expedite the review and voting process, Hull has called a special meeting of the Rio Rancho Governing Body for Tuesday?at 3 p.m. If the governing body approves the contract, pay increases for all police and dispatch personnel will take effect in?April.

“We are grateful that city officials were able to come through with the necessary funding for us to take this first step,” said union President Cpl. Richard Martinez. “We also recognize that there is still much work needed and consider the service that we provide and the personnel that provide it to be among the best in the state. We would like to thank the city officials for their hard work in this matter, but most of all, we would like to thank the citizens of this city for their continued support.”

Funding for salary increases

The new PNM franchise agreement approved by the governing body in?December?has an effective date of?April 1. By increasing the franchise fee ? what PNM pays the city for use of public rights-of-way ? from 2 percent to 3 percent, it is projected the city will receive approximately $750,000 in new, recurring annual revenue.

The majority of that revenue, approximately $500,000, is proposed to fund public-safety employee salaries as part of the updated union agreement and enhanced career progression plan. The plan for the remainder of this revenue is for other employee compensation adjustments to be determined at a later date, subject to collective bargaining with the city’s other unions or employee groups.

Utility companies pass the cost of franchise fees on to their customers. The increase in the PNM franchise fee is expected to cost the average Rio Rancho residential customer an extra 87 cents per month, or $10.49 per year.

Compensation in recent years

Every year since Fiscal Year 2015, Rio Rancho police have received pay increases.

In Fiscal Year 2017, a career progression plan was implemented. The cost was approximately $1 million in additional annual compensation, with additional increases scheduled to occur in future years.

The total cost to implement the updated police and dispatchers contract and enhanced career progression plan is more than $950,000. The funding sources for this cost annually are already planned for general fund revenue and the new PNM franchise fee revenue.

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