Orange County deputy sheriffs have approved a proposed two-year labor deal from county supervisors that offers a pay hike and improved health coverage to partly cover the requirement that deputies pay their full employee pension payment in year two of the deal, sources have confirmed.

Supervisors are expected to take up the pact as early as July 15.

More than 90 percent of the 1025 deputies voting on the deal July 2 supported the final package, which was the product of more than two years in negotiations and came on the heels of a declaration of impasse in April.

One of the main issues complicating negotiations for county supervisors was their public goal of having the deputy sheriffs step up and fully pay for their employee share of annually-required pension payments.

Yet providing a salary boost at the same time – as has been done in neighboring San Diego County – had been a tough sell in Orange County.

With two supervisors – Pat Bates and Janet Nguyen – both facing election this November to the state senate and another supervisor – Todd Spitzer – gearing up for a future run for district attorney, balancing the pension/salary issue had made it it tough to cobble together three votes for a new contract.

In the meantime, the bill for private attorneys continued to mount, surpassing the million dollar mark. A current audit of legal bills for the negotiation is now underway after protests from Spitzer.

The most immediate by-product of the recent tense negotiations has been a public split amongst supervisors on the issue, with Spitzer publicly squaring off against Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson and acting as a go-between after negotiations broke down.

Neither Spitzer nor Nelson responded to a call seeking comment.

Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, issued a brief statement.

“Our members have been threatened over the past two years with losing thousands of dollars a year out of their paychecks,” Dominguez said. “Given what the Board of Supervisors did to the Attorneys’ Association that was not an idle threat. Our members had no choice but to support this contract.

The Board of Supervisors held a hard line on full pension pickups and they achieved their goal of having every deputy sheriff pay their full contribution. Our deputies will pay significantly more toward their pension than any other police officer in Orange County.”

According to a notice sent by Dominguez to his members, a vote on the deal is expected to move quickly – scheduled for the next county supervisors meeting on July 15.

That same day, supervisor also will give final approval to a new transparency ordinance approved unanimously earlier this month.

The latest approach by supervisors toward this labor deal lies in stark contrast to the goals stated earlier this month by supervisors when they approved COIN (Civic Openness in Negotiations), a measure that aims to give the public more time to digest the details and future implications of labor deals.

The COIN ordinance would require county supervisors to report out from closed session any and all prior offers and counteroffers made by either the County or by representatives of the recognized employee organization which were communicated to the County during the closed session.

Under the measure, proposed labor contracts also would have to be posted on the board of supervisors’ agenda thirty days before a public meeting and the Memorandum of Understanding also would have to be posted to the County website.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the public posting period for labor contracts before a vote. We regret the error.

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