February 23, 2002

Bloomberg says City Can't Afford to Give Police Larger Raises

NEW YORK (AP) — Less than a month before a state panel is scheduled to begin hearings on pay raises for the city's police officers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city could not afford wage increases higher than those proposed before Sept. 11.

"The city does not have any extra money, we all know that," the mayor said Friday in his weekly radio address on WABC. "Right now, the city economy is declining, not growing, and we're going to have a tough time coming up with anything more if the arbritration panel rules that."

The city and the 25,000-member Patorlmen's Benevolent Association have been deadlocked in negotiations since the union's contract expired in July 2000.

The union is seeking a pay raise of 23 percent. In July, former mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration proposed 10 percent raises over two years, in line with the planned raises for firefighters, sanitation workers, and corrections officers.

Bloomberg's comments came after a caller named "Bill" in Long Island asked the mayor if his stance on police pay raises had changed since the terrorist attacks.

The mayor said the decision was out of his hands. The city is set to begin legally binding arbitration hearings before a state panel on March 18.

"Mayor Bloomberg must realize that any offer that short-changes New York City police officers is not, in the long run, a cost-effective police," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "You need a well-paid, professional police force to continue the historic crime reduction and quality-of-life improvements."