Police officers in Delaware will get 3.5-percent raises in 2010 after members of the city's police union rejected a proposal to freeze wages.

Police officers in Delaware will get 3.5-percent raises in 2010 after members of the city's police union rejected a proposal to freeze wages.

As a result, a new officer whose training was funded by the city will not join the police department.

Thirty-four officers cast ballots on the issue.

Under union rules, the wage freeze would be accepted if at least 19 officers voted for it. Only 18 voted for it, so it failed.

The city's proposed 2010 budget includes a wage freeze for all non-union workers that would save $168,490. Earlier in the fall, officials asked the city's bargaining units to consider implementing a wage freeze. All rejected the request.

The city earlier announced that five union jobs -- including two patrol officers' jobs -- would be eliminated in the coming year to help make up for a budget shortfall. The Fraternal Order of Police union that represents the patrol officers then agreed to seek a vote of its membership.

One of the eliminated police jobs is vacant. The other is filled by an officer who will graduate from the police academy on Dec. 23, Martin said. The city has paid a significant amount of money for that training and now risks losing him to another department, he said.

Another union, which represents the city's clerical workers, has "shown interest in reaching an agreement" on a wage freeze for 2010, city manager Tom Homan told council at its Dec. 14 meeting.

"We're still negotiating the terms of that," Homan said. "There has been some positive movement from that group" on a wage freeze.

The other union positions that could be eliminated are a maintenance technician in the public works department (currently filled), and a firefighter and a technician in the public works department, both now vacant.

The city's 2009 budget was about $22-million. Homan proposes expenditures be kept to $21.2-million in 2010, with revenues expected to come in at $21.3-million.

Council also discussed some recent revisions made to the capital improvements budget. Items in that budget are funded by income tax revenues, expected to be $2.25-million this year, which includes a $750,000 carryover from 2009.

City finance director Dean Stelzer said he reworked the schedule for some capital expenditures and was able to reinstate $433,491 for sidewalk improvements in 2010.

"There was a lot of concern about the obligation the city made to this program" and property owners who agreed to pay the city for sidewalk repairs along their property lines, Homan said. No repairs have been made for the last three years, he said.

Some of the repairs are the city's obligation, but most are the responsibility of property owners whose property fronts city sidewalks, he said.

Many of those property owners have agreed to pay if the city does the work. All will be billed when the work is done. Those who don't pay will find the cost for work along their property on their 2011 property tax bill.

Councilwoman Lisa Keller asked for a moratorium on the work, saying she didn't think it was right to pay for sidewalk repairs when the city is laying off employees.

Councilman Andrew Brush said he didn't think it would be right to enact a moratorium "when some residents already expended money to make the repairs themselves. ... There was an expectation (on their part) that the city" would be repairing the adjoining sidewalks.

Mayor Gary Milner reminded Keller the capital improvement money was not coming out of the general fund, which pays for salaries.

Council also talked about reducing its annual contribution to the Delaware Area Transportation Authority in 2010 from $7,500 to $5,000 and using the extra $2,500 as "seed money" for the July Fourth fireworks display. Under the proposed budget, council eliminated the $25,000 annual contribution for the show.

Councilman Jim Moore said he hopes businesses and community members will help raise the money needed to stage the fireworks next year in conjunction with a concert by the Central Ohio Symphony.

The third hearing and budget adoption are scheduled for Dec. 28.