VERO BEACH – A tentative agreement reached between the City of Vero Beach and the Vero Beach Police Department could keep union contract negotiations from going to an impasse.
“With all the money the city is having to spend on other things we didn’t want to put the residents through any more financially,” said police union spokesman Phil Huddy. The agreement, which the police union will vote on later this week, calls for four fewer furlough days for the Vero Beach Police Department and higher police contributions to their health care.
The Vero Beach City Council is expected to vote on the agreement – once passed by the police union – at the Oct. 5 meeting.
The city had asked the police department to agree to 12 furlough days, which would have amounted to a 5 percent pay cut. The Coastal Police Benevolent Association has agreed to eight furlough days.
The organization represents 52 Vero Beach officers.
The four non-furloughs is expected to cost the city $46,000. Though it remains to be seen how the city would cover the cost – if the agreement were approved – city council members have expressed support of pulling from general fund reserves.
How much money the city would save if the union agrees to the higher 3-tiered health insurance plan remains to be seen.
According to the tentative agreement, police officers could pay as much as 35 percent more for their health insurance.
Also, as part of the as-of-yet-unapproved agreement, the police officers would work with a one-year contract and forgo raises this year. Their salaries would be kept at their current level.
Under the staggered furloughs, two fewer patrol officers would be on the road patrolling on those days.
The budget for the Vero Beach Police Department is approximately $7 million and has not changed much over the years, despite the declining economic market.