Reynoldsburg News

Police officers, dispatchers

Higher pay, insurance premiums in new contracts

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Reynoldsburg's new contracts with its police sergeants, patrol officers and dispatchers include an increase in employees' share of health insurance plus pay raises to offset the eventual elimination of pension payments now made by the city.

The city and police union representatives have been in negotiations for the new contract since September 2012.

Reynoldsburg City Council approved three contracts as last-minute additions to the agenda and as emergency legislation last month with the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association for police staff sergeants; the Fraternal Order of Police for patrol officers and FOP Ohio Labor Council Inc., for dispatchers.

Changes in the contracts include phasing out the pension pickup for patrol officers and sergeants and an increase in the employee share of health care premiums.

All of the contracts include a 2-percent increase in salaries retroactive to January, with dispatchers also receiving a 2-percent salary increase in the second and third years of their contract.

Patrol officers and sergeants will receive a 1-percent pay raise in July to offset a 1-percent reduction in the city's share of the pension pickup.

Reynoldsburg had been paying 5 percent of the employees' required 10-percent pension contribution, but the new contracts call for that to be phased out and offset increases in salary.

Sergeants and patrol officers will receive a 2.5-percent pay increase to begin the second year of the contract on Jan. 1, 2014, then an additional 2-percent pay increase in July 2014 to offset a reduction in the pension pickup.

The third year of those contracts will begin Jan. 1, 2015, with a 2.75-percent increase in pay, then an additional 2.7-percent pay increase July 1, 2015, to offset the elimination of the pension pickup.

The health care premium increase for patrol officers and sergeants begins Jan. 1, 2014, when each employee will contribute 12 percent of the premium, provided it does not exceed 10 percent of the current rate. Effective in the third year of the contract, each employee will contribute 14 percent of health care premiums.

In the second and third years of the dispatchers' contract, employees will contribute 15 percent of health care premiums with no cap.

City Auditor Richard Harris said the first year of the contracts will cost the city an estimated $151,000 with increased wages and pension payments. He said there are a combined 50 officers and sergeants and eight dispatchers.

He said the estimated pension pickup amounts to $190,000 this year.

"This will decrease as we start paying less pickup," he said. "So once it is eliminated, we would not have that expense."

The FOP was represented in the negotiations by officer Jeremy Severance and officer Dave Love. The OPBA representatives were Sgt. Mark Moser and Sgt. James Costlow. Dispatcher representatives were Gail Leppert and Susan Newman.

"I am happy with the contracts and feel the agreements are good for both parties," Mayor Brad McCloud said.

Love said patrol officers also were happy with the new contract.

"We had nearly 99-percent approval for this contract," he said. "We realized that it is not the greatest time financially for everyone and we went in to negotiations hoping not to lose money after three years -- trying to keep our take-home pay and the status quo."

He said the city asked employees to consider eliminating the pension pickup.

"Reynoldsburg is one of the few cities who still provided the pension pickup and we were willing to change that, especially since the raises will offset the reduction," he said.

Love said a clause included in the contract could reopen negotiations over health insurance stipulations, if necessary.

"We don't know how the Obamacare changes will affect our insurance, so that clause was included," he said.

The negotiations went well between union representatives and the city, Love said.

"These negotiations were a picture-perfect example of collective bargaining, why it works and why we need to keep it," he said. "Yes, we would all probably like to get more, but the city gave us what they could and we are happy with the contract."

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