New Albany's 12 police officers in the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9 did not receive the pay raises they initially requested but they still agreed to a three-year contract with the city.

New Albany's 12 police officers in the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9 did not receive the pay raises they initially requested but they still agreed to a three-year contract with the city.

New Albany City Council on May 15 unanimously approved the contract, which includes a 2.5-percent wage increase this year, a 3-percent increase in 2013 and a 3.5-percent increase in 2014, said Jason Pappas, executive vice president of Capital City Lodge No. 9.

The two sides had been negotiating while waiting for the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) to schedule a binding arbitration conciliation hearing after the city rejected a SERB fact-finder's recommendation on the wage increases.

City spokesman Scott McAfee said the pay raises would be retroactive to Jan. 1, and if the city's other employees receive larger-percentage increases in 2013 and 2014, the officers will receive the same increases.

The contract includes a provision to change the police department's step system. For the first step level, new officers will earn base salaries of $46,000 instead of $48,732. The wage increases will apply to the other four steps, which previously were: step two, $52,629.62; step three, $56,764.24; step four, $61,329.42; and step five, $67,639.10.

According to the city, all 12 officers in the union are at the highest step level, which means they will earn $69,330.08 this year with the 2.5-percent increase.

Future increases will be calculated on top of the prior year's increase, which means they will earn approximately $71,409.98 in 2013 and $73,909.33 in 2014.

Officers still are eligible for overtime. The city paid $59,508.70 in overtime to the officers in 2011, giving them an average compensation of $72,598 in 2011.

The department has a total of 16 personnel, which includes Chief Mark Chaney and three sergeants. The chief is not eligible to be represented by a union, Pappas said. The sergeants are, but they have not asked the union to represent them, he said.

The new contract is New Albany's first with the police union. The union negotiations began last year after the 2010 census determined New Albany's population exceeded 5,000, allowing the village to become a city. According to the SERB, a public employer, which may negotiate with unions, includes "any political subdivision of the state located entirely within the state, including, without limitation, any municipal corporation with a population of at least 5,000 according to the most recent federal decennial census."

The city and the union could not agree on wages in initial negotiations and requested a SERB fact-finder to mediate the issue. The union had requested a 5-percent wage increase this year, a 3.5-percent increase in 2013 and a 3.5-percent increase in 2014, Pappas said. The city had proposed a 2.5-percent increase this year, a 2.5-percent increase in 2013 and a 3-percent increase in 2014, with future wage increases tied to the increases the city provides other employees.

The fact-finder had recommended a 3.5-percent increase this year, a 3-percent increase in 2013 and a 3.5-percent increase in 2014. The fact-finder's recommendation was approved by the union but rejected by City Council on April 17. The two sides were ready for the binding arbitration hearing when negotiations were completed last week.

Pappas said Capital City Lodge No. 9 represents all municipal police departments in Franklin County. He said New Albany has the second-lowest paid officers in Franklin County. The lowest is Pickerington, where officers earn a top step level of $67,350.40 each year. In comparison, Dublin officers earn up to $79,836.55 and Grandview officers earn up to $71,257.55, he said.

Pappas said the new contract would "move them up slightly" and bring them more in line with other departments.

In addition to the wage increases, the contract includes a few new provisions that were not in dispute:

* Shift differential pay has been added so officers working second or third shift will earn $1 more per hour.

* Officers who step into a leadership role when the chief and sergeants are unavailable will earn 5 percent more than their regularly hourly rate during that time.

* The uniform allowance has been increased from $750 to $800 a year and an officer called in on a day off will be paid a minimum of three hours, even if the officer does not work three hours.

The officers' benefits package will not change: They will continue to have the same benefits package as other city employees, which requires them to pay 5 percent of benefits costs. The city picks up the other 95 percent.