The Mesquite City Council approved a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Mesquite Police Officer Association union at its Tuesday, June 25, meeting.

According to background documents, the financial impact of the new contract will be $166,407 in general funds the first year with a total three-year impact reaching $406,253. The More Cops fund will have a $56,922 impact the first year and $150,464 during the next three years.

The police union contract is the first of three bargaining agreements to come before council. “The firefighters contract was initially on the agenda for tonight as well,” City Attorney Bob Sweetin said. But after confusion over differing written versions of the contract were discovered, Sweetin said there was no mal-intent on the part of the union or the city. Rather it was several clerical errors that created the problem.

Sweetin anticipates the firefighter union contract to be before the council at its next meeting. Sweetin said negotiations are still in progress for the rank-and-file city employee contract. Sweetin anticipates that contract to be presented in late July. This is the first year the city has negotiated all three contracts at the same time.

The residency requirement was removed from this contract allowing police officers to live outside a 15-mile radius of the city. That decision was made earlier this year by the council.

Pay increases for police department employees range from 2 percent up to 12 percent depending on years of service, lateral transfers or other individual situations. All employees will receive one step increase on July 1.

Seniority bonuses are eliminated in the new contract. “With the new pay increases, these bonuses are no longer necessary,” Sweetin said.

Pay rates in the first year of the new contract for Corrections Officers begin at $41,932 and reach a maximum of $67,100. Corrections Sergeants’ pay ranges from $61,651 to $86,756.

Patrol officers’ beginning pay in the contract’s first year is $47,590 and maxes out at $76,294. Police Sergeants’ pay rates range from a minimum of $67,641 to a maximum of $95,201.

In the third year of the new contract the pay rates corrections officers begin at $44,449 and max out at $71,136. Pay rates for corrections sergeants start at $64,729 and reach $91,104. Patrol officers’ beginning pay is $50,440 and maxes out at $80,870 while police sergeants’ pay rates range from a minimum of $71,032 to a maximum of $99,964.

Sweetin said the new agreement with all its pay increases still allows the city to remain within its expected budgets.

Jean Watkins (center) is flanked by many of the volunteers who showed
up to paint the Campus mural on May 17. (Photo by Jim Lavender)

The council unanimously approved the police union collective bargaining contract.

An amendment to city code that modifies areas and approval requirement for decorative murals without using conditional use permits was introduced. The issue arose from a request in May to paint a mural on the outside walls of the Women’s History and Cultural Center. The current code required council approval of a CUP before painting could begin.

During that process, council requested staff to bring a code amendment exempting decorative murals from the area limitations of painted wall or flat signs and includes a requirement that the applicant have a plan for on-going maintenance of the mural.

The bill also changes the approval process for murals that could be just council approval or a Public Arts Committee designated by the council, should they wish to delegate the responsibility. Councilwoman Annie Black objected to that provision saying not enough information was available about a Public Arts Committee which at present time does not exist in Mesquite.

“If I had my way approval by a committee would go away until I know who and what the committee is going to do,” Black said. “I feel like I have to pass this before I know what’s in it. Art is subjective so who gets to decide what is art and what is allowable art. I’m very protective over that.”

Councilman George Rapson responded saying the council would have the responsibility to appoint people to the arts committee should they decide to go that way. Sweetin agreed explaining the council would still have final approval unless it gave that to a committee if one is formed.

Black requested the item be tabled until more information was available. Councilman Brian Wursten agreed with that as did the rest of the council in a 5-0 vote.

The council approved a sale of 0.60 acres of land on Hardy Way at Abbott Wash to the Virgin Valley Water District for a new well. After the water district deeds an old well house located on city property to the city, the district will pay $57,000 for the property.