Below is the text of our address to the Board of Supervisors at this year's Budget Hearings. Our thanks to all who were able to attend. It is truly an honor to stand and do what we can to represent you all. Thank you!
Madam Chairman, Respected Members of the Board and Staff. Thank you having us here today. My name is Sean Corcoran and I am the President of the Fairfax Coalition of Police Local 5000, International Union of Police Associations. As you are aware, the Fairfax Coalition of Police as been the preeminent voice for Fairfax County Police Officers in advocating for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for almost 30 years.
In and of itself, the outlook for our employees is good. We appreciate and we fully support the package for county employees, including finally fully funding employee compensation, including a 2.25% Market Rate Adjustment merit steps and longevity steps. We stand with all other employee groups in asking that these items be funded in their entirety. We also appreciate the ongoing addition of staff in advance of a new station and other positions.
In our ongoing meetings and deliberations to improve compensation, we were cautiously optimistic that support was there this year to address the challenges of the first line supervisors and Animal Protection Police pay issues which looks to be slightly less than one million dollars. In fact, our understanding is that county staff does support the proposal, but with a catch. The catch is that the Chief has to absorb these compensation costs, along with the cost of a number of other advertised budget items, including the personnel costs for new hires, In Car Video costs, and the opioid and gang task force positions. Effectively, this is like saying your kid got in to Harvard, but you get to pay for it all yourself out of pocket.
Again, the county is acting in a way that could be coined as “dime rich, dollar poor”. We react and pour tons of money and effort in to perceptions and self created crises yet we ignore the larger, systemic issues that could actually have a positive impact on this department, the county workforce, and the communities we serve. This is exactly the mindset that led to the ad hoc commission. Rather than addressing the issues that actually drove the problem, we spent millions of dollars that, with the arguable exception of the initiatives in Diversion First, have done little to nothing to actually make this department better and its employees more effectively compensated for the job they do day in and day out. Meanwhile we have spent millions of dollars addressing problems that don’t exist.
Is addressing first line supervisors and APP compensation a critical need for this agency? Yes.
Is there a demonstrated business need? Yes.
Will fixing this have a positive impact on the workforce? Yes.
Will we fund them? No.
Why? Because we say we have no money. We can pull out hundreds of thousands of dollars in reoccurring costs for auditors and review panels. We can find almost a million dollars for a Body Camera Pilot. And we joke that it costs a few million dollars to close the county for a weather event or make a half-day holiday in to a full day holiday. But we have been advocating, imploring, begging, for this for years and it is simply ignored. And if I am basically giving the same speech I did three to four years later and after a six figure study came back and showed this was a problem AND has gotten worse, then it has been ignored. And we hear the silence.
We are asking, once again, that you please fund these adjustments. It is a simple, manageable and worthwhile increase to assist long apparent disparities. With your support, we can start to address these problems and continue moving to a healthy and equitable compensation system for all of our Police Officers.
I would also like to address the issue of our retirement security. Last night, we were proud to stand with our sisters and brothers throughout the County workforce, including teachers, general county workers, fire and rescue personnel, Sheriff’s Deputies, and Police in supporting our retirement systems and saying NO to any changes.
What we fail to realize is that our systems did not just happen. They did not just appear. Sacrifices were made. Negotiations were performed. People came to the table- employees, elected officials, staff members, to make these systems a reality. Boards of Trustees have, for generations, acted responsibly, fiduciarily, and in in the best interest of the County and their respective system stakeholders to ensure healthy, well funded, and quite frankly some of the best investment vehicles in the country. To simply dismiss them as a burden, as a liability, as inconvenient, is to disrespect the efforts of so many that have come before us.
As we move forward, we must remember how we have gotten here and the work that has been done. There is no reason to dismantle or destroy what so many have worked so hard to create. We ask you to reconsider your positions on the retirement systems, speak with the Retirement administration and their Boards, and get off of this path that will have such a toxic effect on our workforce. The best thing we can do right now is nothing and allow them to work to everyone’s benefit.