Some members of the Austin City Council plan to bring forward a resolution to restore some provisions of the former contract between the city and Austin police union while a larger agreement is worked out.
A post on the council’s online message boards from members Alison Alter, Jimmy Flannigan, Ora Houston, Ann Kitchen and Ellen Troxclair said their offices have been forging a path toward a new contract since the council voted to send the last proposed contract back to negotiators in December.
The members said their goals for a new contract would include “accountability to the public, is fiscally sustainable for the city, ensures our peace officers remain the highest paid force in the state, and allows the financial flexibility to hire more officers.”
“At this time, we have developed a set of recommendations to move forward that we feel achieves these goals,” the message said. “It includes guidance on an overall spending limit and details on other fiscal and non-fiscal items.”
The members said the details they have agreed upon will be delivered to City Manager Spencer Cronk “as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, they will bring a resolution to the full council on Feb. 15 to put some items from the old contract back in place for the short term while an interim agreement is worked up.
The message did not specify which items were being looked at.
On Feb. 1, Austin police union President Ken Casaday asked Mayor Steve Adler and the City Council in a letter to reinstate special pay for officer that was included in the previous agreement.
“We believe it is unfair to financially punish officers, especially our younger officers who are now having their pay reduced as much as $1,000 per month, by withholding their special pays while Association and City mutually work toward a new agreement,” Casaday wrote.
As the council prepares for the Feb. 15 meeting, the city’s Public Safety Commission will hear from members of the police union, city activists and others on Monday to discuss the current status and future of police accountability in Austin.
The city’s Citizen Review Board, an oversight body tasked with examining cases of police misconduct, was shuttered last month as a result of the police contract’s expiration. The contract’s failure also put limitations on the department’s hiring and promotion process.
UPDATE: This article has been updated from a previous version with information on the Austin Police Association’s request that City Council reinstate special pay for officers.