Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/02/2011 06:00:58 PM PST

COLTON – The City Council has approved labor contracts that reduce compensation for police officers and many other city employees, saving the city about $1.2million per year.

Designed to reduce a $5 million shortfall and layoffs, the concessions follow months of negotiations and sometimes vocal campaigning.

“We have gone back and forth on this issue,” said Councilman Vincent Yzaguirre at the meeting Tuesday night. “It shows a lot of passion for people and our family….We do appreciate the give-backs and humbly appreciate what you’ve done to help our family.”

But the reductions won’t be enough to prevent layoffs, said Councilwoman Susan Oliva, the only council member to vote against the package.

“It’s not just about an employee’s pay. It’s not about his perks. It’s about working together to save our city,” Oliva said. “I believe every unit did that, but more could have been done….We’re going to be losing (an estimated) nine officers and putting our community in jeopardy.”

City Manager Rod Foster said labor laws prevented him from specifying the number of layoffs before contacting those employees.

Greg Castillo, president of the Colton Police Officers Association, called the new contracts a step in the right direction.

“We’re happy that we were able to work with the city and kind of wrap all this stuff up,” he said. “It’s been an extremely long process.”

Beginning today, police officers will pay their full 9 percent contribution to the state’s public employee retirement system, CalPERS, which Colton and other cities have paid for their officers.

The union also agreed to a 2percent salary reduction beginning in July of 2012 and another in July of 2013, unless at that time the median base salary of certain other cities is more than 2percent higher than Colton’s.

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