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Police Association withdraws petition, gives new chief a chance

By By Brian M. Cuaron - BCUARON@VICAD.COM
Sept. 6, 2011 at 4:06 a.m.


CITY COUNCIL ADOPTS BUDGET, TAX RATE

The Victoria City Council adopted the 2011-12 budget on Tuesday by a 6-1 vote. Councilman David Hagan opposed the budget.

The council also approved a tax increase by adopting the 64.5 cent tax rate per $100 in property values. So a person owning an appraised $100,000 home would pay $645 in taxes.

The Texas comptroller's office considers this a tax increase because the rate was above the effective rate, which would bring in the same amount of revenue as last year, of 63.5 cents per $100 in property values.

The Victoria Police Officers Association withdrew its petition requesting it be recognized as the bargaining agent for the city's 116 officers.

In response to the petition, signed by 104 officers, the Victoria City Council was scheduled to vote on a resolution Tuesday that would've arranged a "meet and confer" agreement with the association.

Under such an agreement, the city would not have been bound to come to any contractional agreement with the association, only to meet and discuss issues, said City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz.

Officer Jonathan Allen, the association's president, told the council that after speaking with the city's new police chief that he thought it was in the best interest to withdraw the petition.

He said after the meeting that he wanted to give Chief Jeff Craig a fair shot at addressing the officers' concerns.

In the council meeting, Allen said the main concern was employee retention. However, he wouldn't go into detail about what that meant.

As to whether the association may file another petition, Allen said after the meeting that the association wasn't currently discussing another petition.

He did say at the meeting that the petition was a long-term goal of the association and that it wasn't an effort to unionize.

He also noted that the petition caused quite a stir in the media.

Allen's move avoided a likely battle at the ballot box. Had the council rejected the resolution, the issue would've gone to the voters in May, when four council members are up for re-election.

Mayor Will Armstrong, Mayor Pro Tem Paul Polasek, and council members Joe Truman and Tom Halepaska had said they would oppose the resolution. Critics said a "meet and confer" agreement would increase city expenses and taxes.

Only Councilman David Hagan said he would support the resolution. He wanted to get around the filter of city management and directly hear officers' concerns.

Hagan also noted there was nothing binding under "meet and confer" agreements.

Armstrong said at the meeting that he was at a loss for words. He said the petition was withdrawn in good faith that the city and police department would work together.

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