Photo: Scott Davidson from United States at Wikimedia commons.

A Sterling Heights police union with 35 members who averaged a gross salary of $119,000 this year and has refused to make any contract concessions — choosing instead to take the dispute to arbitration. The Sterling Heights Command Officers Association took a 3 percent pay cut last year, but balked when the city asked to extend the cut another year and requested an additional 4 percent cut, according to Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool.

Without concessions, the city wants to impose a shortened work week on the police union, and this is what is going to arbitration. The hearing was Aug. 9 and a decision is expected within two months, Vanderpool said.

The Command Officers Association represents police sergeants, lieutenants and captains.  According to financial documents received from a Freedom of Information Act request, 34 of the 35 union members made $100,000 or more. The highest salary was $140,233.

The concessions are being sought because the city says it is losing millions in revenue. The city claims it has lost $27 million in property tax revenues the past four years because of declining property tax assessments and another $28.7 million in declining state revenue sharing over the last 10 years.

Meanwhile, four other city unions, and the firefighters union have accepted concessions, according to published reports. Vanderpool said seven of the city’s nine unions agreed to concessions.

A spokesman for the Command Officers Association could not be reached for comment.

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Ted Nelson is a retired Michigan State Police officer who trained police departments throughout the state on civil asset forfeiture. He believes the practice has been misused and needs to change.

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