Fresno

Amid pushback from cops, Fresno delays 5% raise for top city executives

Update 10/14/21: Fresno’s top non-union executives will have to wait a little longer to receive their five percent raises. 

After dealing with the negotiations in closed session on Thursday, the Fresno City Council decided to continue the proposal to a future meeting. 

The next scheduled regular meeting will be held on Oct. 28. 

The council did not provide a reason for the delay. 

10/13/21: City of Fresno executives are set to receive a potential five percent raise while the city’s police officers and other law enforcement have been without a new contract since the summer. 

The Fresno City Council will vote on a five percent raise for all non-union represented management within the city on Thursday. 

More than 60 top city executives will be in line for the raise, which includes the City Manager Tommy Esqueda and his staff, City Attorney Doug Sloan and his staff, Fire Department Chief Kerri Donis, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama and various department heads. 

Due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – which resulted in an over $30 million deficit in Fresno’s budget that was remedied by federal stimulus packages – Esqueda ordered a salary freeze for all non-union executives in June 2020. 

The council’s resolution will give Esqueda the authority to either award a retroactive one-time lump sum payment of up to five percent of base salary to employees or a permanent, retroactive, salary increase of five percent. 

The amount awarded will range from 2.5 percent to 5 percent, depending on performance evaluations. 

Fresno will dish out a maximum of $665,000 total in raises. 

However, the executives’ raises comes before Fresno’s law enforcement staff – including cops and firefighters – and other city employees have struck a new contracts with the city. 

On June 20, the contract between the Fresno Police Officers’ Association (FPOA) and the city expired, leaving the city’s police force operating on an old contract for nearly the last four months. 

Police officers have also not received a raise since June 2020. 

FPOA Vice President Jordan Wamhoff said he is troubled with the city’s prioritization of the executives over front-line employees. 

“It seems a little inappropriate that they’re talking about raises for high-level directors when a lot of the basic units haven’t even got a contract yet,” Wamhoff said. 

The FPOA and the city have been at the negotiating table for months, but there is no timeline in place for both sides to come to a deal. 

Wamhoff said the FPOA is trying to secure a deal that will make the police department more competitive with other departments across the region and state for new hires. 

“I can assure you that we are looking for things that make us competitive in a job market where our police applications have dropped by 68 percent over the last two, three years,” Wamhoff said. 

Earlier this year Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Balderrama set a goal of hiring 120 officers in 15 months, but the Fresno City Council did not pass a budget that agreed with Dyer’s plan. 

So far in 2021, Wamhoff said the Fresno Police Department has brought in 43 new hires but has lost 51 officers. 

That negative trend could continue without a new deal in place soon. 

“I think if we end up with a competitive contract, I think it might sway some people who are on the fence with either leaving our department to stay or possibly enticing candidates who are at the academy to come work for our department,” Wamhoff said. 

Ultimately, Wamhoff said it comes down to Dyer to push the city in the right direction to focus on the FPOA’s new agreement. 

“I don’t think there’s any question that Mayor Dyer puts a focus on public safety, but at the same time, he’s the leader of this city. Ultimately, everything falls on him as far as how some of these things run downhill or how these things get on the agenda to be voted on,” Wamhoff said. 

“I know that he is actively working on negotiating all bargaining units with the city, but it seems more appropriate that line-level workers in the city get their contracts before directors and high-level city executives get their contracts.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.