Denver police reject delays in pay increases
DENVER, Colorado – Denver police have rejected delays in scheduled pay increases, prompting Mayor John Hickenlooper to warn that layoffs will be necessary unless officers reconsider.
About 60 percent of the Denver Police Protective Association voted Monday against deferring a 2010 pay raise of 4.5 percent to December of next year and a 2011 pay raise of 3 percent to December of that year.
Police Lt. Vince Gavito, president of the association, believes officers and the city can reach a compromise.
“We do believe there’s opportunity for the executive board and mayor’s staff to come to some kind of compromise,” he told The Associated Press.
Hickenlooper said the wage concessions would save the city $12 million and help cover an overall $120 million budget shortfall over the next 17 months.
“We can’t print money,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s the last thing, whether it is in the mayor’s office or the budget office, that anyone wanted.”
The mayor said he is looking at restructuring the police force to ensure layoffs don’t affect the number of officers on the street. Roughly 90 officers might have to be cut from the roughly 1,500-member force, he said.
Gavito attributed Monday’s vote to several factors, including $2.3 million in concessions already approved by police in the spring.
The mayor’s staff and union officials didn’t start discussing the latest round of concessions until August, and officers didn’t get a proposal to review until late last week, he said.
The union faced a Sept. 1 deadline on the vote, Gavito said.
Eric Brown, a spokesman for the mayor, said union leaders chose the timing of the vote.
“I think the door’s still open,” he said.
The mayor must deliver the budget to the City Council by Sept. 15.
The Denver firefighters’ union has recommended that members ratify a similar proposal to defer pay raises and is scheduled to vote Sept. 14 and 15.