Some Lansing City Council members have spoken out against Mayor Virg Bernero's plan to set aside money in the budget for a new police headquarters, saying the city needs more officers instead. Mayor Bernero responded on Wednesday with a proposal to hire 12 additional police officers on top of the seven that are already included in his budget, bringing the total to 19.
"I would love to have every officer that was laid off back on the job. I mean they [council members] were very clear, we want more we want more. I hear you, I don't hear how," Mayor Bernero said.
To pay for additional cops, the mayor wants the police union to open contract negotiations and agree to have its members pay more for health care and pensions. According to the mayor, the goal is to save $1 million, which will go toward hiring 10 officers.
"Those are the packman of the budget if you will. That's what's really eating up the budget is the health care and pension cost. So my proposal gets right at that and it's an invitation really to the FOP to sit down and work with us," Mayor Bernero said.
However, the union has made it clear they're unwilling to open contract negotiations at this stage arguing that officers have already made concessions .
"We have increased the premium share for our health care. We've had pension cost increase, changes in deductibles and co-pays. He can't balance his budget on the backs of his employees," said Tom Krug, executive director for the Fraternal Order of Police.
According to the mayor, the city only has money to bring back two more officers on top of the seven already listed in his budget. The union agreeing to concessions would bring back the other 10, though the union is upset that they got no prior warning regarding this proposal and calls it political play.
"He's trying to bully us into giving him concessions and we're not going to do that," said Krug.