Delaware City Council on March 21 received three-year proposed contracts with unionized police department employees.

Delaware City Council on March 21 received three-year proposed contracts with unionized police department employees.

Council will have 30 days to decide whether to approve contracts for patrol and supervisor units, which are retroactive to June 26, 2010, and binding through June 25, 2013.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the officers' union, approved the contracts.

Police Chief Russ Martin thanked assistant city manager Allen Rothermel for his work.

"This negotiation process has been very reasonable," he said.

The tentative contracts propose a 2-percent wage increase for each of the three years.

If approved, effective March 30, police officers in 2011 would earn yearly salaries of $49,504 to $69,014. Sergeants would earn yearly salaries of $73,840 to $79,372, and captains would earn yearly salaries of $84,926 to $91,270.

The city contributes a sum equal to 10 percent of an officer's base wages toward pensions in the current contract, said community affairs coordinator Lee Yoakum. Effective March 30, the city would increase police officers' base wages by 8.4-percent to make up for the loss in city pension contributions. Police officers' total compensation would decrease then by 1.6-percent.

A top step patrol officer in Delaware with a base wage of $63,648, with the city's 10-percent pension contribution, has a total compensation of about $70,012.

The city surveyed other central Ohio police departments for a wage and pension comparison.

When compared with top step patrol officer wages at 15 other departments including those at Hilliard, Dublin, Whitehall, Grove City, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Gahanna, Reynoldsburg, Columbus, Worthington, Powell, Pickerington, Marysville, Marion and Lancaster, Delaware ranks 11th in total compensation.

Hilliard's police department ranks first, with a total compensation of about $76,529, of which 9.5-percent is pension pickup. Hilliard's total compensation is 9.3-percent higher than Delaware's.

The contract also outlines tentative changes to the monthly insurance contribution caps to $150 for family and $75 for single in April, to $160 for family and $80 for single in 2012, and to $170 for family and $85 for single in 2013. Yoakum said the current contract cap was $140 for family and $70 for single.

Parts of the contract also were changed to accommodate the new work schedule, part of the new contract.

As proposed, the new schedule would be four 8-hour days on, two days off. The current schedule is six 8-hour days on, two days off, Yoakum said. Officers would also be allowed to cash in up to two weeks of compensatory time and receive equivalent pay during any calendar year. To do so, officers would have to inform the police chief before Aug. 1 of the year before the calendar year in which they intend to make the trade.

The tentative contract changes residency requirements. Officers were previously required to live within 30 miles of Delaware city limits, but they would now be allowed to live within Delaware County or any adjacent county.

Minor changes also would affect vacation time and sick leave. The minimum increment for vacation request would be changed from five to four consecutive work days. Following sick leave, an employee would be assigned to light duty pending the city physician's final fitness determination.

"It's a tough time to be a city council person," Martin said during the meeting. "We appreciate the tough decisions you have to make." He also spoke highly of his department. "Good police work is going on day in and day out," he said.