Marana stands to save more than $392,000 following negotiating over employee pay and vehicle privileges with the Marana Police Officers’ Association.

The association, which initiated the negotiations, agreed to forego step increases, merit increases and lump sum performance awards through June in exchange for broadened take-home vehicle privileges.

“We don’t want to see anybody get laid off,” said Jason Cann, the association president. “We want to (avoid the effects of) this financial crisis just like everybody else does.”

The Marana Town Council approved the agreed-upon amendment to a memorandum of understanding between the town and the association at its Tuesday, March 17, meeting.

Generally, sworn personnel and dispatchers are eligible to move to the next higher pay step on their anniversary dates if their job performance meets specific criteria.

Those at the top step are eligible for a 5-percent lump sum bonus instead.

Non-sworn employees are eligible for pay increases based on job performance evaluations in July.

Cutting out those pay increases for a year is expected to save the town $305,865.

The town and the association also agreed to compute overtime by counting the hours actually worked on a holiday rather than holiday paid time off.

Estimated savings from computing overtime differently total $170,000.

“We’re trying to save as much money as possible so we can avoid any diminished level of service and employee furloughs. I hate to use the word layoffs,” said Suzanne Machain, the town’s human resources director.

In exchange for the pay losses, the town agreed to let more employees in the police department take home Marana vehicles.

The old rule stated that police department staff with on-call assignments could take home patrol vehicles only if they lived within town limits.

The amended rule, effective July 1, extends the take-home vehicle program to all sworn employees and crime scene specialists who have established permanent residency within a 20-mile radius of the Marana Municipal Complex or the Marana Operations Center.

To offset high gas prices, the amended rule deducts $20 per pay period from affected employees’ pay when the town’s average fuel cost reaches $3 per gallon or more.

The change in the take-home vehicle agreement makes 10 additional employees eligible for take-home vehicles and costs the town an estimated $83,252.

Negotiations took three weeks, starting on Jan. 28 and ending on Feb. 18 and were, according to Machain, “very positive, professional and productive.”

“From my perspective, it went very smoothly and quickly,” Police Chief Terry Tometich said. “The issues were dealt with and resolved in a very timely and cooperative manner.”

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