New Castle News

February 17, 2014

City police arbitration award ratified

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — New Castle City Council has ratified a three-year arbitration award for city police.

Lodge 21, Fraternal Order of Police, previously signed off on the award that calls for a wage freeze for 2013 and 2 percent pay increases in 2014 and 2015. Officers also will receive applicable step increases in each of the three years.

City officials and police were unable to reach agreement on a new contract through regular negotiations, so the matter went to binding arbitration under the state’s Act 111. The previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2012.

Business administrator Stephanie Dean said the 2014 city budget includes money to cover the pay increase and applicable step increases for this year. The step increases for 2013 will have to be paid out of this year’s budget but the cost has not yet been calculated, she said.

The award provides an annual $700 clothing allowance to all officers effective Jan. 1, 2014. The allowances varied under the old contract, Dean said.

K-9 officers will continue to receive an additional $500 annually for the care and maintenance of their dogs. In addition, those officers shall be scheduled to work 37.5 hours per week and be paid for 40 hours with the additional paid time representing the time necessary to provide additional care and maintenance for the K-9.

The award also removes the cap that officers pay as their share for health insurance.

The calculation and contributions for pension benefits was changed for officers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2013. Those officers’ benefits will be 50 percent of their base pay averaged over the highest five years.

Their contributions will be 5 percent of base pay excluding holiday pay. The previous level was 4.5 percent.

The award also removes the requirement that an officer hired within the last six years live in the city for any period of time.

Previously, any officers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2008, had to become a city resident within six months of being hired and remain a resident for at least nine years. If they moved, they had to live within seven air miles of city hall.

Under the change, officers must live within 10 air miles of city hall.