Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Police union officials rip Tampa mayor's spending priorities

TAMPA — Conceding to the police union's demands would cost the city more than $12.6 million and force nearly 200 layoffs, Mayor Pam Iorio said Wednesday.

Iorio called a special City Council meeting to reinforce her opposition to the union's requests for raises and more time off.

But union representatives said Iorio is overstating the financial impact of the proposed contract by inflating dollar figures and applying police union contract requests to the city's firefighter and general employees unions.

"These numbers are completely incorrect," Diane Morton, an attorney representing the police and firefighter unions, said later.

Iorio said the so-called step increases that are awarded as officers rise through the ranks would cost $1.7 million a year. The police union said the cost is $772,000 a year.

The city's figure includes the cost of benefits, such as increased pension payments, and a full year of step payments, which are awarded throughout the year based on an officer's hire date, finance director Bonnie Wise said.

The city's $12.6 million figure also includes a dollar value for additional time off.

Morton also said it's unfair to insist that the two other unions get exactly what is given to police officers.

"Each union is unique," Morton said.

The city is at an impasse in its negotiations with all three unions. That means the contracts go to a special magistrate, who will issue a nonbinding recommendation. If the two sides still can't agree, the contracts go to the City Council.

The police contract is furthest along, with the magistrate's recommendation expected by Nov. 9.

Iorio told the council that in the interest of fairness, that contract should set the tone for the two others.

"The police go first," Iorio said, and "as the police goes, so goes the other two."

Union representatives argue that the city can afford to pay the raises and could tap an $82 million reserve fund. Morton points to a transcript of the police hearing before the special magistrate that shows the city's attorney said: "Nobody suggests that in a budget of this size you can't find the money. So it's never been about ability to pay."

"They choose not to," Jimmy Meier, senior vice president of West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, said after hearing Iorio.

William Mann, vice president of the firefighters union, said Iorio has made choices about how to spend city money that indicate she doesn't really care about employees. Specifically, he notes $12,000 budgeted to pay a poet laureate and money earmarked for lighting street signs.

"Where are your priorities?" he said.

Mann predicted that there will be an overflow crowd when the council considers the police union contract next month.

"They've told us everything rides on that contract," he said. "We're going to have to support the PBA."

Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Police union officials rip Tampa mayor's spending priorities 10/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 10:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival wraps up with Above and Beyond, more at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    The first numbers trickled in on Sunday, and they didn't look great.

    Louis the Child performed at the Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium on May 28, 2017.
  2. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  3. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  4. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  5. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.