A deal is in the works to end the long and often acrimonious
impasse between the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association and
City Hall over contract negotiations. A majority of Santa Barbara
City Council- members appear willing to sign off on a three-year
contract giving police a 26 percent pay hike, 2 percent more than
“the last, best, and final offer” delivered by city negotiators six
weeks ago. Proponents of the plan have suggested the difference
could be made up by reducing the number of officers from the 141
budgeted to 137. They also say this sizable raise can be given
without dipping into city reserves. It is possible, however, that
such a raise could limit the department’s ability to reestablish
the beat coordinator system and other popular aspects of
community-oriented policing.

Looking to accent their nearby casino and resort holdings, the
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash announced this week that they are close
to finalizing the purchase of the Royal Scandinavian Inn in
Solvang. With escrow expected to close in early 2007, the Chumash
Nation is purchasing the 133-room hotel for an undisclosed sum with
hopes of remodeling it in the coming months.

Greka Energy Company agreed to pay $75,000 to settle the
remaining 10 complaints filed by the District Attorney’s office for
operating without the proper county fire and air pollution control
licenses at its Santa Maria asphalt facility. The embattled North
County energy company also volunteered to post a $150,000 bond,
which it will lose if it fails to remain in compliance. This
settlement is in addition to the $675,000 that Greka already agreed
to pay the DA’s office this year to resolve other environmental
permit complaints.

Santa Barbara Teachers Union leaders are scrambling this week
after a state mediator failed to make any rulings after two rounds
of meeting with them and the SB School District in their ongoing
teacher salary negotiations. At the negotiator’s urging, the union
is set to vote on the matter on November 27, though the independent
mediator suggested teachers should take the cash-strapped
district’s proposed 1.5 percent pay increase – which takes into
account cost of living and other variables – rather than continue
their fight for their preferred 6.5 percent hike.

Unemployment figures in Santa Barbara County dropped down to 3.4
percent last month, while the statewide unemployment rate of 4.5
percent is itself a record low. The county’s jobless rate dropped
0.3 percent from the prior month, with the biggest increase in
employment being reported by the government sector.


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