The Dallas City Council did its required rubber-stamping Tuesday, signing off unanimously on a settlement that takes care of four of the six outstanding police and fire pay lawsuits against the city. The $62 million settlement takes care of the suits filed in Collin County by former Dallas police officers and firefighters, one of which was slated to go to trial Dec. 4.
As he has throughout his time as mayor, Mike Rawlings said Tuesday that the city has done everything to fulfill its side of the bargain that it struck with police and firefighters almost 40 years ago, which caused the six lawsuits. Under that plan, ratified by Dallas voters in 1979, the city agreed to give its first responders a 15 percent raise and to maintain the proportional differences among pay grades that existed at the time.
The city says it was only required to maintain such proportions through the initial raise. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits believe the city should've maintained the differences permanently.
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"The city of Dallas did nothing wrong," Rawlings said. "I have looked at this every which way, and we did what that referendum said we would do. That being said, this is [the] right thing to do at this point for the future of the city of Dallas."
Nearly across the board, the council praised new Dallas City Attorney Larry Casto — the guy behind the city's newfound negotiating success with the suit's plaintiffs, according to Jim Schutze — for helping to broker the settlements. While $62 million isn't cheap, council members said, avoiding the potential billions in damages to the plaintiffs was essential.
"Sixty-two million is a lot of money, but I'm more concerned about the amount of money that might need to be paid off if this goes to trial," City Council member Scott Griggs said. "This is a settlement, to me, that doesn't take much thought."
According to Schutze's reporting Tuesday, the council has authorized Casto to spend another $140 million to $165 million in order to settle the two outstanding suits. Ted Lyon, the plaintiffs' attorney in those suits, has said only that his clients will have to approve any city settlement offer.