Atlantic City Police won't have a new contract when their current bargaining agreement expires Dec. 31, but negotiations have progressed in a more positive direction than expected.

PBA and city administration attorneys said they met Friday, with "constructive" results. Last week, it seemed like talks would be minimal and instead lead quickly to arbitration.

The PBA made a counteroffer Friday that attorney Mark Belland declined to disclose details about other than to say it is "consistent with the PBA's view that a negotiated agreement will be better than an arbitrated agreement."

"I think it’s better left between parties at this juncture. I would interpret our meeting today as positive and constructive to try to reach an agreement," Belland said.

Last week, PBA President Paul Barbere said the city sought three years of pay freezes, plus reduced starting and maximum pay for all ranks through lieutenant. The union does not include captains and deputy chiefs, nor chief, whose contract is handled separately by the city administration.

Barbere found the city’s initial plan unacceptable because the city firefighters finalized a better deal in July. In particular, firefighters’ reduced wage scale applies only to future hires and wages for current hires will be frozen for just one year.

The IAFF firefighters union contract also maintained longevity, education and other benefits — something the city sought to take from police while also extending the duration to reach top pay for a patrol officer, Barbere said.

The police and firefighters unions are the first in the city to renegotiate contracts since the onset of new state laws that limit contractual cost increases to an average 2 percent annually.

City attorney Steve Glickman confirmed the details provided by Barbere, but would not say much more at the time.

Glickman declined Friday to provide particulars of the PBA counterproposal, which he said he will review with the city administration. He expects to meet again with police representatives again shortly after the New Year.

"We had some frank and positive discussions today," Glickman said. "We're working on it.”

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