Upland force gets raises, thanks to ex-city manager
Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Created: 05/21/2011 07:07:45 AM PDT

UPLAND – Upland police are due for pay raises and increased city-paid retirement contributions on July 1 – which former City Manager Robb Quincey negotiated and would have enjoyed himself had he not been terminated by the City Council.

Upland police captains, lieutenants and sergeants will receive a 3 percent increase to their base salary and will contribute 1.9 percentage points less to their own pensions.

Upland police officers and detectives will receive a 3.5 percent pay boost and the same reduction in their own contribution to their retirement.

By 2013, Upland will pay the entire employee’s pension contribution for all the sworn personnel. They are also due for raises in 2012 and 2013, in order to reach pay averages in six other agencies.

Quincey, who was terminated on May 4 for breaching his employment contract and not following specific council direction, negotiated the police contracts in December 2009. They were approved by the City Council.

Three months later, Quincey’s contract was amended to give him any pay increases the officers and detectives in the Upland Police Officer Association would receive.

Quincey’s salary and benefits was more than $460,000 annually.

The city is currently piecing together its 2011-12 fiscal year budget, which will now need to include more than $430,000 in salary increases and retirement contributions for the police. That will be difficult to afford, said Stephen Dunn, the city’s interim city manager and finance director.

In 2009, the city’s negotiating team could not reach a deal with the police, Dunn said.

“The negotiating team did not agree with the contract,” Dunn said. “It was taken from the negotiating team and the former city manager went on and negotiated the contract on his own and got it approved by the City Council.”

No other city employees are scheduled to receive pay increases in the 2011-12 fiscal year, Dunn said.

The Upland police were not financially competitive with other agencies and had begun to lose officers to other agencies, which was why Quincey stepped in, said his attorney, Michael Zweiback.

“That’s why Robb stepped in to try to do something to create a better financial incentive for the police officers to be retained by the city,” Zweiback said.

Regarding Quincey’s contract amendment, Zweiback said those types of provisions in city manager and other professional management contracts within a public entity are not that unusual.

Quincey did not accept the raise in 2011, Zweiback said.

“Because Robb was very concerned about the financial condition of the city he ultimately waived that raise,” Zweiback said. “He did not take it. He sent a letter to personnel in which he said it didn’t feel appropriate.”

Quincey did not draft his contract or its amendments, Zweiback said.

“People within City Hall and the people who they employ were the ones who drafted these contracts and made offers to Mr. Quincey based on his performance,” Zweiback said. “And for him now to be used as a scapegoat by people who have their own self-interests in mind is unfair and inappropriate.”

When council members approved the agreement in 2009, they were told the city would save more than $29,000 for the 2009-10 fiscal year because police would not get a raise then. Any fiscal impact outside of that budget year was to be dealt with during the budget approval process for fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13, according to the staff report.

There were two components stressed during the presentation to the council on the contracts, said Councilman Brendan Brandt.

“One is the desire to retain quality police officers and two was the need to keep them or have them obtain salaries at the mean of our surrounding cities,” he said.

Also, the costs were expected to be absorbed into the city budget since it was approved a year and a half in advance, he said.

The economic forecast was also different at the time, Brandt said.

“I think back when this was presented there was a different snapshot of the economy and what it was doing,” Brandt said. “So I understand now a lot of cities are looking at pension reform and potentially looking at what we call two-tiered pensions, and I think that’s something the city of Upland is going to start looking at.”

Musser said the council members had only verbal direction on what the police contracts included when they approved them in 2009.

“How do you know when you make a good agreement when it’s verbally agreed upon under pressure to make everything go away?” Musser said. “Did he make an arms-length transaction? I doubt it. This is an area we need to visit as quickly as possible.”

Musser said he is worried that one employee group has some liberal benefits compared to other city employees.

“I would say we need to look at the total budget very clearly and look at every possible way to avoid layoffs and to contain the total costs of the city,” he said. Employees “should be paid an adequate salary and benefits, but on the other side it needs to be what we can afford.”

At the time of the negotiations, Upland police were reaching out to residents regarding their pay and benefits.

The officers had started a campaign to inform the residents of their pay situation, said Dieter Dammeier, police union attorney.

“Peace officers started handing out informational fliers on that and then Robb Quincey called me to see if we could work out a deal,” Dammeier said. “I know he was talking to the council people at the same time trying to figure out what his parameters were to make a deal.”

Jim Potts, president of the Upland Police Management Association, said the department has historically been paid less than other police agencies in the county.

“Upland is the only department in the county with a 3 percent at 55 retirement formula,” Potts said. “I think we were the only one who paid into our retirement, so everybody is going to be coming back down to our level where we’ve been for a long time.”

Upland’s survey cities include Ontario, Fontana, Rialto, Glendora, West Covina and Chino, all of whose police receive 3 percent person at 50 formula and do not contribute to their own retirement.

When the Upland associations went to the negotiating table, their goal was to get their pay and benefits increased to be in line with those of other agencies.

Upland officers do not receive retirement medical, which is a huge cost to cities, Potts said.

“Historically the city of Upland has paid their department heads very well and their ground workers, city yard workers, regular librarians, firemen and policemen under the market value,” Potts said. “It’s been that way for almost 20 years that I’ve been here and it’s very frustrating.”

Potts said the department had not known about Quincey’s piggybacking on the association’s contract until about two months ago.

To read entire story, click here.