An offer by Chico police officers to pay their own retirement contributions and ease the burden on the city budget was nixed by city leaders.
Currently, the City of Chico pays the full employee share of retirement contributions, a deal made years ago between city leaders and police.
The Chico Police Officers Association offered to pay the contributions in exchange for putting a limit on the minimum number of officers on payroll and in 2015 reinstating a 5-percent pay reduction taken by officers a couple of years ago.
"Hopefully the city is going to be better off down the road," said Officer Peter Durfee, President of the Chico Police Officers Association, "but right now the city is paying 9-percent of our (Public Employee Retirement System contributions) anyway. So we're offering them anywhere from $500,000 to 772,000 over the next 2 years. To which, they said no."
Chico's Assistant City Manager, Mark Orme, says he appreciates the officers effort to help but the decision came down to an inability to project what the economy will do in the next few years.
"They truly want to help this community out" Orme said. "Unfortunately, we can not prognosticate two to three years down the road exactly how the economy is going to move forward. So it's very very difficult to ensure that you're going to be able to give salary increases down the road. We have to take it year to year, almost, right now."
Officer Peter Durfee appreciates the city's recognition of their efforts.
He says that he and his fellow officers are just trying to do their part and, if the proposed city budget is passed, will have to continue to do more with less.
But he suggests his department is taking on too much of the burden.
"We have gone above and beyond, and the city does recognize that. The Assistant City Manager thanked us for stepping up and trying to help," Durfee says. "There's other people (in the city) who say they're doing more with less--they're taking on more responsibility--well, the Chico Police Department is doing a lot more with less."
The police department currently has 51 officers on-staff and the proposed budget could eliminate 4 more.
Durfee said in a press release Monday that "unfortunately, right now, Chico is not a safe place to live."