CAPE MAY _The city has reached a new four-year deal with police officers retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011.
The deal, approved by City Council on Tuesday night and already ratified by the rank-and-file, also includes a number of concessions reflecting the poor economy and the state-mandated 2 percent cap on tax levy increases. The concessions especially impact new hires.
City Manager Bruce MacLeod said the contract:
Increases salaries by 1.75 percent in 2011 and 2012
-Increases salaries by 2 percent in 2013 and 2014
- Reduces starting pay for new hires from $36,689 to $30,000
- Increases the number of steps for new hires to get to the top pay from 10 to 18
- Eliminates longevity pay for new hires
- Reduces the number of holidays with "premium pay," or time-and-a-half, from 14 to just Thanksgiving and Christmas
- Officers can't bank unused sick time beginning in 2013
"Now you have lower starting salary, 18 steps and no longevity," said MacLeod.
There are also changes on terminal leave. It has been four days pay per year of service or 100 days for a 25-year career. The pay rate was based on the salary during the last year of service, which is the highest pay. MacLeod said existing officers will now be capped at their 2012 pay rate. New hires will also be capped at 2012 pay rates but limited to cashing in just 80 days.
Patrolman John Campbell, representative for Police Benevolent Association Local 59, said he has been involved in contract negotiations for 17 years and this was the most difficult one yet due to the poor economy. Officers picketed outside Cape May Convention Hall last month, though Campbell said there were no bad feelings. He said the contract was good for the officers and the city.
"We look forward to maintaining the professional and harmonious relationship we've always had," Campbell told council.
Mayor Ed Mahaney said residents can expect the same level of police service at a price "affordable to us."
He said the contract will prevent future councils and citizens from being overwhelmed by police costs.
The contract covers 20 patrol officers and sergeants who not only police the city but also cover West Cape May and Cape May Point under inter-local service agreements. It does not cover the superior officers, including one lieutenant, one captain and Police Chief Diane Sorantino, who council just gave a contract to.
In other business, council on Tuesday also awarded a new contract to MacLeod that runs through 2014. Deputy Mayor Jack Wichterman said it will give raises of 1 percent per year.
"It's very reasonable and you do a good job," Wichterman told MacLeod.
"Thank you," MacLeod replied.
MacLeod, who began working for the city in 1979, also serves as the city's tax collector. He was in the financial office in 2008 and was elevated to manager at a salary of $118,200 when council fired former City Manager Lou Corea. His first contract expires on June 30.