Officer pay now ranks in the middle of county

The city council approved a new contract for Plantation Police Wednesday night, bringing a feeling of relief among both parties.

Most importantly the new contract brings officers’ salaries into the middle of the pack when compared with other departments in Broward County. (We had been toward the bottom.) For example, the contract increases the starting salary for incoming officers from $52,708 to $58,822. It rises above $90,000 after 20 years, similar to everywhere else.

The city and the Fraternal Order of Police had been meeting for about a year; this contract is retroactive to Oct. 1, 2018, when the last contract expired. One problem (but certainly not the only challenge) was the change in administration and staff departures. The city’s lead negotiator had been Horace McHugh, who was the city’s chief administrative officer under Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic. He left after Lynn Stoner was elected mayor in November 2018. Stoner herself eventually stepped in as the lead negotiator. (Administration negotiates the contract, then the city council must approve it. As is usual practice, the city council and administration had several, legal, “shade” meetings to talk about facets we might approve or vote against.)

I could open a whole can of worms and everyone could point fingers at why it took so long, but I’d rather just be happy right now that we have a contract. It was kind of anticlimactic at the meeting Wednesday night because approval was placed on the meeting’s Consent Agenda, meaning it was approved in one fell swoop with many other items. A good number of officers and administrators were in council chambers in case there were any last-minute roadblocks, but, gratefully, there were not.

Council members had long agreed among themselves that the salary increases were appropriate and necessary. The disagreement came over benefits and pensions. (The FOP had lost ground with the prior contract, creating hard feelings and putting Plantation arguably toward the bottom when compared to other departments. City leaders can counter that a tight pension plan makes city budgets more sustainable.)

To that end, the new contract allows for all officers hired before Oct. 1, 2014, to have a seven-year period under what is known as “DROP,” and officers hired after that date to move to a five-year DROP. Those are both increases.

It also restructured holiday time, added part-time School Resource Officers to the CBA, increases assignment pay for special units and increases supplemental benefit provisions under the pension.

Parks updates

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board held its quarterly meeting on Tuesday and members received several updates. First off, the new flooring is in place at Deicke Auditorium. The floor previously had carpet, the replacement of which was long, long overdue.

Meanwhile, summer camps are in session and our community centers across the city have about 500 participants.

And work is starting on upgrades funded by a 2016 bond approved by Plantation voters. Remodeled restrooms at Pop Travers Field – as well as a badly needed coat of paint – are among the first projects. Next will be a remake of Pine Island Park, which will have the parking lots consolidated into one spot, an articificial turf field that can help us host concerts and special events and a wide walkway surrounding the park.

Veterans event

The Plantation Historical Museum & Society will honor all veterans, with a special emphasis on those who served in Vietnam, at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Plantation Historical Museum, 501 N. Fig Tree Lane. Military vehicles and artifacts will be on display. Call 954-797-2722.

Quick turnaround

 The city council usually meets every two weeks, but we’ll meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, to accommodate mid-month vacations. We’re starting to work on the budget. The other meeting of the month is Monday, July 29.

Also note the July 4 parade starts at 9 a.m. My family and I will be in a city truck, and, hopefully, my posse will include my adorable granddaughter, Mia. Yes, I’m fine being upstaged in this case.

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