Raises on hold: Our protectors help budget-makerEl Paso Times StaffPosted: 09/20/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT
El Paso police officers, firefighters and sheriff's deputies could have easily played hardball and demanded pay raises. Police and fire didn't. And it appears the deputies won't, either.
All three are in unions with collective bargaining agreements. Union bosses pounding fists on podiums in union halls come to mind in similar situations.
And they know, and we know, that they have an advantage over other departments. We can't do without them, and we can't cut their budgets too severely. They easily could have made it difficult on budget makers.
But there's been none of that at City Hall or at County Commissioners Court.
They also could have come up with good arguments in favor of raises, not just because they have a union, but because the city and county are coming up with money for other groups.
During this time of budget-crunching, Commissioners Court first decided to set aside $200,000 for Project ARRIBA and its job-training program. Last week, citing budget woes, the county reneged. It has also set aside $1.8 million that may go toward a bailout of El Paso Mental Health Mental Retardation.
City Council is giving $200,000 to Project ARRIBA and gave La Mujer Obrera a $250,000 interest-free loan to launch which looks like a financially questionable nonprofit market in Central El Paso.
Police and fire, working with City Manager Joyce Wilson, agreed to put off their raises -- give the city a chance to meet the citizens' needs first.
And now it looks likely that the El Paso County Sheriff's Officers Association will agree to a temporary freeze on raises in exchange for having their collective bargaining agreement extended to 2014.
We expect a lot from our law-enforcement officers and our firefighters. We trust them to help ensure our physical safety. Because virtually every city has its own police and fire, and every county has a sheriff's office, we too often take in stride that they're there.
They do a good job of coming to our rescue. We expect that of them.
Putting off pay raises is yet another way of police, fire and sheriff's deputies coming to our rescue.