A month after 48 officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office were laid off amidst an $18 million budget shortfall, the police union and the city are continuing years-long negotiations, but no closer to getting a contract.
After five hours of debate between the city and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office on Sturday, they appear no closer to reaching adeal.
The police union wants those officers hired back, and wants to ensure no more are laid off.
The city says they're between a rock and a hard place and really can't budge.
For months Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba has complained about the cuts, saying it hurts officer, but more importantly, it risks the safety of the city.
"Before you jeopardize the safety of this community, because we're going back to numbers of three years ago when we were the number one murder capitol of Florida," Cuba said.
But those with the city say with tough economic times, almost everything has to be cut.
"That's the consequence of not raising taxes," Council Woman Lori N. Boyer said.
In a Saturday meeting with mayor's office representatives, the police union offered a three-year contract that includes a 1 percent officer pay cut the first year and another 1 percent the second year. Officers also agreed to pick up 5 percent of their insurance costs.
The FOP removed offers of reduced holiday pay and eliminated the possibility of furloughs. This amounts to about $12 million in concessions.
But the city didn't accept the new deal. They asked for a 4 percent pay cut—up from the last request for only 2 percent. They want union employees to pay 5 percent more for their insurance, and they want to ensure no pay raises for the next few years.
In a statement to Channel 4, the Cuba wrote: "We believe our offer is fair and provides the savings the Mayor is looking to achieve. We want to be reassured that officers taken off the streets due to layoffs would be rehired, but unfortunately the City is not willing to agree to that."
Document: FOP Statement
After the meeting, a city official told the Times-Union the city is trying its best with everyone's interest in mind. The parties plan to meet again on Tuesday.
"You have to be optimistic going into negotiations," Derrel Chatmon with the Jacksonville Office of General Counsel said. "We wouldn't be here unless someone thought it was a good idea."
Channel 4 has tried repeatedly in the past 24 hours to get the city's side of things, calling the mayor's office and his media relations representative. So far Channel 4 has not received a response.