Cape leaders considering bonus for police department
Fox 4 has learned Cape Coral leaders are considering a more than $500,000 bonus for a city department. Video by fox4now.comvideo
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - The city did not want this leaked. Fox 4 learned that in a closed-door meeting, council discussed a bonus for police department employees and other contract terms.
Secret contract negotiations could give Cape police employees a one-time bonus.
"It was a meeting that none of us are supposed to be talking about," said Marty McClain, councilman for District 1. "And here you are talking to me because you caught wind of it from someplace."
Fox 4 is learning city council is in negotiations with the police union.
"Do you see this as a way to keep police employees at the department?" asked Gabrielle Sarann to McClain. "I think it's a good start, I really do," he replied.
The "shade meeting", as it's called, was closed to the public because it dealt with confidential matters. But Fox 4 has discovered that city leaders are discussing a five-percent bonus for current officers and other police department employees, which would amount to about $525,000, for the term expiring September 30, 2012. But to save money, they propose re-working future contracts. The retirement age could be changed from 50 to 52, as well as have the three-percent cost of living allowance (COLA) kick in the fourth rather than the first year of retirement. It's estimated to save the city $50 million over 30 years.
McClain wouldn't talk about specifics but added, "It generates a savings obviously otherwise we wouldn't be doing it."
City manager John Szerlag wasn't available for an interview. But in an email he wrote, "The City has not yet reached a Tentative Agreement with the Police Department so any public announcement at this time would be premature and potentially inaccurate."
"There's money there but what are you going to take it from?," questioned former outspoken councilman Bill Diele. He believes this move is political. That council is considering it because it's an election year.
"Their voter base are the unions so for them to buy union support with taxpayer dollars to guarantee their re-election, its certainly something i would expect of them," explained Diele.
McClain added, "I have to be very careful with this because nothing's a done deal. This is what's being proposed. It does make sense. It does look like it will work."
These negotiations are in an infant state. A contract must be drawn with the police union, then presented as an ordinance before council votes on it.