City Council ratifies police contract

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council ratified a new contract and raises for its Police Department employees in a regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Retroactive to July 1, police employees will receive a 1.5-percent increase to their salary schedules, followed by five more 1.5-percent increases every six months through Jan. 1, 2016. The contract expires on June, 30, 2016.

The Police Department’s salary schedule contains five steps, with 5-percent increments from the fist to the third steps and 3-percent increments to the fourth and fifth steps. Employees move up a step based on a positive evaluation annually.

With this decision, police officers receive $4,449 per month at the top step. By the end of the contract, officers on the top step will earn $4,793 at the top step. Dispatchers receive $3,468 per month at the top step. By the end of the contract, they will earn $3,736.

The contract revamps insurance benefits. Through the end of 2013, insurance will work the same, with the employee paying 5 percent of the insurance premium and the city paying 95 percent. On Jan. 1, the city will begin providing a high-deductible plan along with health savings accounts to offset the high deductible. The city will annually provide $1,250 to police employees receiving insurance only for themselves and $2,250 to employees who receive the benefit for the entire family.

The HSA is portable and owned by the employee.

The city estimates it will save more than $131,000 over the life of the contract, said City Manager Craig Martin, and those savings will be used to offset wage increases in the agreement.

Voting yes on the contract were councilors Craig Fentiman, Bruce Hobbs, Greg Mahler, Dave Trask and Mayor Jim Gourley. Scott McKee Jr. and Marybeth Angulo were absent.

The contract was ratified unanimously by the Police Department employees, Martin said.

In other business, the council:

— Approved a step increase for Martin following a positive evaluation.

Voting yes were Fentiman, Hobbs, Mahler and Gourley. Trask voted no.

Trask said he thought the city manager should receive the same percentages the council just approved for Police Department employees.

“I voted for a freeze last year, and I still stand by that,” Trask said. “I just think he’s paid enough. In this economy, I think he’s paid well, especially in the circumstances we’re in.”

— Received complaints about crime, loud and obnoxious behavior, and language and bonfires around the 1800 block of 12th Avenue and the area of 13th Avenue and Poplar Street nearby, along with complaints about the condition of Sweet Home parks.

Residents said patrols were rare in their neighborhoods, and asked for help cleaning up those neighborhoods.

Police Chief Jeff Lynn offered to discuss the issues further with residents following the meeting to find solutions, and Martin encouraged Bill Davis to attend the next Parks Board meeting with his information.

— Declared three Public Works vehicles surplus, including a 1991 Chevrolet S14 pickup, a 1987 Braun ambulance and a 1962 Autocar tender.