By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – An agreement between the city and the Taylor Police Officers Labor Association was approved by city council Tuesday.
The memo of understanding confirmed the previous recall of nine laid-off officers, although one had already found another position.
The understanding allows officers with 15 or more years to retire and begin collecting pensions.
“The gist of it is, they leave now but can’t buy extra years,” Council Chairwoman Cheryl Burke said. “A lot of their expenses come out of the general fund; when they go to the pension fund it helps our budget.”
Council approved the agreement 5-2, with Councilmen Frank Delo and Dennis Stapleton dissenting. Delo questioned the mathematical logic of the agreement, and said he didn’t understand how the decision would benefit the city.
“We’re saying we’ll spend the money before we know where the money is coming from,” Delo said.
Others disagreed, and said the agreement joins other negotiations the city has undertaken to ensure having as many as possible of the department’s nearly 70 officers on the street. Currently, patrol officers were required to work the dispatch desk, a task Burke now says hopefully will be done by a multi-community effort of 911 operators.
“The expectation is to stay close to what is currently there,” Burke said, “with the anticipation of getting people off the desk.”
Taylor Police Chief Dale Tamsen agreed. “The idea is to put more officers on the road,” he said.
Council members were concerned about the loss of experienced officers to early retirement, leaving a larger percentage of the department with less experience. From a cost standpoint, Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said the approval was part of a process to ensure the future stability of the department.
“This is the first phase of getting cost reductions for future hires,” Lamarand said.
The price of public safety, however, remained a concern to some, including Stapleton, who observed that the dedicated millage paid by residents has risen from less than 2 mills in 1997 to the current rate of more than 6 mills, the tax per dollar of assessed value of property.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])