Contract for police to get vote

A proposed police contract that goes before City Council tonight puts limits on what police can receive in pensions by preventing them from becoming bloated from excessive overtime and longevity, according to Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.

“We’re no longer going to see pensions of $50,000 or more,” he said following a positive recommendation of the contract by the finance committee. “It caps pensions at a first-year officer’s rate, meaning the officer can collect no more than a first-year salary, or $42,057.”

Treasurer Thomas P. O’Connor had expressed interest in seeing that part of the contract because the problem has been officers retiring and in their final year accruing a lot of overtime that calculated into their pension payment.

Police Chief Gregory Foresman considered the contract between the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 29 and the city a start at negotiating concessions to pensions and health care, which are expenses that contributed to the need by council to raise taxes this year.

The four-year pact raises police salaries by 2 percent this year and 2 1/2 percent each year of the remainder of the contract, Foresman said. It calls for health care contributions and may have saved the city an estimated $100,000 in legal fees by not going into arbitration.

“The city budgeted for 3-percent raises,” he said. “Initially, the union asked for a 4-percent raises and the city and union had a potential agreement for 3 percent, but the final result was 2 to 2 1/2 percent,” Foresman said.

The cap amount increases, however, as the wage of the officer increases, Foresman added.

For any new hires, the city picks up 80 percent of the health care costs and the officers must pay up to 20 percent of the costs for the first year. For each year afterward, what the officers’ contribution decreases until the end of the contract when the city pays the full amount of coverage, Foresman said.

Union representative Lt. Steven Helm is declining to comment until council votes.

As he plans for the 2014 budget, Campana said the negotiating team that reached the contract agreement will remain as Michelle Casale, personnel manager; William E. Nichols Jr., director of finance; and J. David Smith, assistant solicitor.

Meanwhile, council also is expected to vote on whether to hire two more officers, which brings the department complement from 47 to 49, the budgeted amount this year.