Council, police union sign off on new contract

Scott Swanson

Barely enough City Council members to form a quorum, needed to make a decision, gathered Wednesday evening, Dec. 18, to approve two salary increases for city employees.

The four councilors who were able to attend the meeting, one by phone, approved a 3-percent raise for most of the members of the Sweet Home Police Employees Association and a salary schedule that includes a 3-percent raise for non-represented city staffers.

Both were approved unanimously by councilors Susan Coleman, Diane Gerson and Mayor Greg Mahler, along with Dave Trask, who participated in the meeting by phone.

City Manager Ray Towry said negotiations with the police union have continued since last January and an agreement was reached earlier this month. Union members voted to ratify the tentative agreement on Dec. 11.

The contract includes a 3 percent raise in each of the next three years for officers, plus a $400 “signing bonus” for “supplemental equipment” – things like notebook covers or flashlights that officers often choose themselves.

Police dispatchers will get a 4-percent raise in the first year, and 3 percent for the succeeding two years.

The police contract also included changes in how officers are compensated with paid time off for working 12-hour shifts, from 12 hours of paid time off per quarter to six hours per pay period, which will be on a use-or-lose basis.

It also slightly increased “certificate pay” for those who have earned Department of Public Safety Standards and Training certification or college degrees. The one-time pay increases will now be 2.5 percent for those earning intermediate DPSST certification or an associate’s degree, and 5 percent for advanced DPSST certification or a bachelor’s degree.

The new contract also includes language changes to clarify or bring the contract into accordance with city policies in a variety of areas, such as per diem work, longevity, retirement, sick leave and body art.

Towry said the salary schedule for non-represented city employees was adopted last spring and incorporated into the 2019-20 budget, but frozen until the police contract could be approved by the council.

Towry recommended that the councilors approve the new salary schedule retroactive to July 1, the beginning of the city’s fiscal year.

Non-union-represented city employees are largely those in management positions, but also include some janitorial and secretarial positions and administrative assistants.