When city council members approved the fact-finder's report for a new three-year contract for Upper Arlington Police Department employees last week, city and police officials ended a disagreement about a department wage freeze.

When city council members approved the fact-finder's report for a new three-year contract for Upper Arlington Police Department employees last week, city and police officials ended a disagreement about a department wage freeze.

According to the fact-finder, city officials were hoping to freeze officer, sergeant and lieutenant salaries at the 2009 rate for 2010 and offer employees a 1-percent increase in each of the following two years.

Likewise, Fraternal Order of Police members were hoping to receive a 4-percent increase each year of the three-year contract.

The fact-finder, who was brought in when the two sides could not come to an agreement through their own negotiations, recommended middle ground with a 2.5-percent increase in 2010 and a 3-percent increase in 2011 and 2012.

Both council and the FOP approved the fact-finder's agreement Monday, June 21.

Forty-nine employees are covered by the agreement. Their previous contract expired Dec. 31, and the employees have been working since then without a contract.

According to the fact-finder's report, the wage increase will cost the city about $723,000 over the next three years.

The increase includes $589,209 in an overall wage increase, $114,895 in pension costs, $8,453 in Medicare and $10,803 for Workers Compensation.

UA Police Chief Brian Quinn said the agreement would increase the 2010 salary of an officer with five years of experience to $72,900, a sergeant's salary to $83,800 and a lieutenant's to $96,400.

The base salaries, on top of which the 2.5-percent increase was added, are not part of the negotiated agreement, Quinn said.

He said the salaries are in line with other similar-sized departments.

"If you look at other departments, I believe for police department ranks that keeps Upper Arlington around seventh," he said, noting municipalities including Hilliard, Dublin, Grove City and Gahanna had higher salary rates than UA.

City officials had hoped their proposal, which would have cost the city $136,000 over the three-year contract, would be approved and thus decrease their budget during hard economic times.

"Prior labor agreements negotiated before the recession granted unsustainable annual increases during the downturn, and such recovery is still uncertain," the fact-finder's report about the city's position read. "All bargaining units must recognize that as a result of the recession and reduced investment income that new agreements cannot offer the level of wage increases granted in the past."

The FOP argued that the city's general fund reserves were well above the target carryover amount, and general fund revenues had exceeded projections in 2009.

The fact-finder concluded that the city did have enough money to give FOP members an increase.

"Although the city's revised 2010 budget does not provide for any wage increase, it also fails to provide for $1.4-million in estate tax revenues that would be more than adequate for the $87,590 in wage increases recommended by the fact finder in the current year," the report stated.

Quinn said he thinks his officers are pleased with the approved agreement, which also included recommendations about officers participating in political activity, internal review procedures, shifts, tuition reimbursements and holidays.

"A majority passed it, so I would say they are in agreement with it," he said. "They understand it's a process, and they feel like they do good work and they are valued in the community. And so they go out and they are going to do their job every day."

He said the new contract would go into effect immediately and be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010.