CLEARWATER - The Clearwater City Council approved a new collective bargaining agreement with its Police Officers and Police Supervisors at last week's Council meeting. The contracts cover three years, 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09.
The contracts provide a 4-percent general wage increase in each of the three years. The city expects the cost of the wage increases to amount to $2.8-million over the three-year term of the contracts.
The new starting salary for an entry-level police officer will be $41,116 in 2006/07, increasing to $44,471 in 2008/09. A top pay level officer will earn $60,866 in 2006/07, $63,327 in 2007/08 and $66,380 in 2008/09.
The contract also shortens the amount of time for advancement from entry-level to the top pay scale from 17 to 11 years for Officers, from 8 to 7 years for Sergeants, and from 7 to 6 years for Lieutenants.
The contract also contains a provision that allows the city to hire experienced Police Officers into the third step of the wage scale rather than entry-level, helping the city's recruitment effort.
The city's Supervisory, Administrative, Management and Professional (SAMP) employees will also receive a wage increase next year. Following the Council's approval of a 4-percent increase for City Manager Bill Horne on November 2, Horne approved the same 4-percent increase for the city's non-union employees.
City employees covered by its contract with the Communications Workers of America will also receive a 4-percent increase for 2006/07 via the terms of a collective bargaining agreement approved earlier this year.
The city's firefighters will fare a bit better in 2006/07, receiving a 5-percent increase per the terms of a contract decided by the City Council in 2005. A three-year series of 5-percent increases was intended to bring Clearwater's firefighter wage scale into a competitive range and to overcome the bitter taste of a retroactive 3-percent increase in 2004/05, a year in which they worked without a contract.
Although the city's headcount will grow by only 3 firefighters next year, the payroll across all city operations, including both General Fund and the city's several enterprise funds, will grow by $4.2-million (5 percent) to a total of $90-million.
With personnel costs representing 67-percent of the General Fund budget and contractual wage increases for Clearwater's Police (4-percent), CWA employees (5-percent) and Firefighters (5-percent) set for 2007/08, the City's Budget Task Force will be challenged to find opportunities for cuts in the city's 2007/08 budget.
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