San Francisco police union resisting calls for officers to forgo scheduled raise 

San Francisco police, faced with the threat of laying off 171 officers, are under mounting pressure to give up $14.5 million in scheduled pay raises.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said Wednesday during a Budget and Finance Committee meeting that the answer to a looming staffing and budget crisis is for the Police Officers Association to agree to give up pay raises slated for next fiscal year.

“I hope that’s the direction we go,” Chiu said.

“It’s definitely a topic that’s been on the table and continues to be on the table,” said Greg Wagner, the budget director for Mayor Ed Lee.

Even if The City cuts all department budgets by 20 percent across the board to close a projected $306 million deficit, there would still be a $60 million shortfall. But cuts of that magnitude could significantly alter the Police Department’s operations.

While the department can live with a 10 percent budget reduction, it’s the additional cut of $11 million that would result in laying off 171 police officers, interim police Chief Jeff Godown said. To absorb the staffing reduction, the department could be forced to reduce foot patrols or close stations, he said.

Exacerbating the staffing problem is that Godown said he expects six to eight new retirements a month. And there remains uncertainty about funding for Police Academy classes next fiscal year. Godown would like three classes of 50 prospects funded next fiscal year, which cost $5 million each.

“We are running into a perfect storm. We are looking at laying off existing officers plus having to hire new officers at the same time,” Godown said.

The police union would have to agree to any giveback. Union President Gary Delagnes said officers have deferred raises for the past three years and he would not ask his members “to give up a raise for the fourth time because The City can’t balance their books.”

Police are not the only public safety employees on the hot seat over raises. Firefighters are in line for a pay bump next fiscal year, and the Fire Department has yet to come up with a complete 20 percent in cuts, being short about $5 million.

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