Buffalo police officers will no longer enjoy cosmetic surgery benefits in their contract with the city following a decision from an arbitrator.
A compulsory arbitration award, reviewed by the Common Council on Tuesday, took away cosmetic surgery benefits, effective Sunday, and also awards retroactive raises and increases in longevity pay. The estimated cost to the city is $23 million over nine years.
Members of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association will see their wages increase by 1 percent retroactively as of June 30, 2008, and then again by 2 percent as of June 30, 2009.
Officers’ pay will now range from $50,372 to $66,031. Other ranks will see their salaries increase. Detectives will be paid $68,230, and at the top, the commissioner will be paid $120,522, according to a salary schedule approved by the Council on Tuesday.
Officers also will receive an increase in longevity pay, which multiplies with each year of service. Yearly awards increased by $30, to $155. This sum is paid to each officer for each year of service, up to 25 years, meaning an officer with 25 years in the department is paid an additional $3,875 every year.
The award was issued July 16 by Jay M. Siegel, compulsory interest arbitration panel chairman.
The police union did not agree with the award, which takes away cosmetic surgery benefits as a point for future negotiations with the city, but does not plan to fight it.
“We would just like to put it behind us and move forward,” said John Evans, PBA second vice president.
The union, which represents approximately 741 members, has concerns that the city will be able to pay them in time, as the award must be paid out within 60 days, Evans said.
Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder’s office, which is waiting on information from the administration before payments can be made, confirmed that the retroactive pay cannot be paid in time for the Sept. 14 deadline, and that payment won’t likely be made until Oct. 12 to Nov. 1.
The city’s total retroactive cost of the award, including retroactive raises, longevity pay, payroll taxes and additional pension contributions, is $12.5 million from 2009 through 2103, according to an analysis from the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. The estimated costs over four years beginning in 2014, less the savings from the elimination of cosmetic surgery, is $10.7 million, the authority found.
The city appears to have the funds to pay for the award, according to the authority.
The award also allows the city to adjust manpower levels twice a year, instead of once a year.
In other Council action Tuesday, lawmakers went on record opposing the demolition at St. Ann Church, 651 Broadway, and passed a resolution that would prevent demolition permits from being issued until the Preservation Board reviews landmark status for the site and the Council holds a hearing.
An application for landmark status, which would further protect the church from demolition, will be debated at a Legislation Committee meeting Tuesday.
The church, owned by the Diocese of Buffalo, was built in 1878, with a convent and school added in later years.