Richmond city council to discuss huge payout for police overtime.

Posted at 11:50 AM, Jun 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-25 11:50:11-04

Richmond, Va  (WTVR)  –  We could find out tonight just how much money it’s going to cost Richmond taxpayers to settle a lawsuit with hundreds of the city’s police officers.

   City council is taking up a resolution at a scheduled public hearing that could pay those officers millions of dollars in unpaid overtime. 

Last September, 500 retired and active Richmond police officers filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming they were shortchanged in their paychecks for years.  Attorneys for the city tried to get the lawsuit thrown out, but a federal judge denied the motion.  That means this could go to trial, or the city could settle.  That’s what they’ll talk about tonight.

A 2005 state law says the officers should’ve been paid time and a half for anything more than 80 hours in a two-week pay period, but the city was paying them under federal rules that say overtime gets paid after 86 hours.  Working the math, some officials proposed a $38-million settlement, but others want it down around $10-million.

Once a settlement number is reached, Mayor Dwight Jones would have to introduce a budget amendment and city council members would then have to approve it.  We talked with 1st District councilman Bruce Tyler this morning.  He says the people of Richmond have a right to know what’s happening with their money.

“Every time elected officials get together, no matter what it is, you’re dealing with citizens and the taxpayer’s money”, said Tyler. “I think regardless of where you end up, you always have to think about that because if you don’t, you’re going to make bigger mistakes and bigger and bigger mistakes.”

The terms of the settlement say the amount paid out has to be confidential, but because this will eventually be a budget matter, the council has to discuss it at a public meeting.  Citizens can give their opinion, but we may not know the exact number for certain until the mayor submits a budget amendment.

There will be other business talked about tonight.  Councilman Marty Jewell is expected to; once again, propose that Kanawha Plaza downtown be exempt from denying people from camping overnight.  That was an issue there during the “Occupy Richmond” protest movement.

Also, with more people interested in keeping chickens in their backyards, they’ll discuss reducing the amount of land space you need to be able to do so.  Right now you must have just a little over an acre.

So everything from feathered friends to federal lawsuits will be on the table at tonight’s meeting.