Lt. Vince Gavito, president of the Denver Police Protective Association, said 60 percent of the membership voted against Mayor John Hickenlooper's proposal to delay next year's pay raise of 4.5 percent until December and delay a 2011 pay raise of 3 percent until December of that year.
In return for the delays in raises, the mayor offered to extend the current contract an extra year to 2012 and give the officers a 3 percent raise, which would be delayed until July of that year.
Officers with five years of service currently are paid $29 an hour.
The mayor made a personal appeal to the police rank and file earlier in the day in a meeting at the police union hall. At his appearance, Hickenlooper says DPD agreed to ground its chopper for 12 months as a way to save money.
He said that if the police officers refused to ratify the proposal, 91 to 92 officers would be "in jeopardy" of being laid off to help close a $120 million budget deficit.
If the police had accepted the mayor's proposal, the city would have saved $10 million over the next two years. Hickenlooper was not available for comment after the vote.
"We laid out for them that if everyone forgoes a pay increase, we can keep everyone here," Hickenlooper's chief of staff, Kelly Brough, said after the vote. "That was our preference. Without them ratifying, we're not left with any other options other than to reduce the size of the force."
Mel Thompson, the city's deputy manager of safety, said last month that the city is about 60 officers over the authorized force of 1,446. That's due to fewer retirements than had been expected.
Thompson said then that the city has redeployed about 40 officers to Denver International Airport, which pays those officers' salaries.
That redeployment still leaves the city with about 20 more officers financed by the general fund than authorized, Thompson said.
Gavito said the officers will try to lobby the City Council to put a halt to the mayor's push to lay off officers.
Gavito added that the police contract bars any layoffs until the start of next year.
The union that represents firefighters has recommended ratification of a similar proposal from the mayor that would require firefighters to postpone negotiated raises. The firefighters are scheduled to vote Sept. 14 and Sept. 15 on whether to accept the concessions.
The administration and the union for sheriff's deputies are continuing their negotiations.
Also Monday, Hickenlooper proposed a voluntary early-retirement program for city workers. The retirement incentive program would be available to about 960 employees covered by the Denver Employees Retirement Plan who are at least age 65 or are 55 to 64 with the sum of their age and tenure exceeding 75.
The program grants a stipend of $500 a month for 30 months paid out of the general fund.
If the program is approved by the City Council, eligible employees will be able to sign up between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15. Separation from city employment must occur no later than Nov. 30.
Written by Christopher N. Osher for the Denver Post. Click here for the Denver Post's coverage
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