Westerville police will see a 3-percent pay increase each year for the next three years under a contract approved by Westerville City Council on April 17.

Westerville police will see a 3-percent pay increase each year for the next three years under a contract approved by Westerville City Council on April 17.

The contract also includes provisions for performance-based raises and will shift police from paying 10 percent of their health-insurance premiums to 15 percent of their health-insurance premiums by 2014.

The contract covers the 75 members of the Westerville Division of Police represented by the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge. It excludes the police chief and deputy police chief.

The 3-percent raise allowed in the contract, which will go into effective retroactively to Jan. 1, will cost the city approximately $190,000 this year, and approximately $1 million over the three-year life of the contract, said Westerville Administrative Services Director Adam Maxwell.

Police department employees do receive automatic step increases through the contract, Maxwell said, but the new contract includes provisions that will allow those steps to be delayed based on performance.

"We were happy to gain a performance standard. We can withhold or freeze a step for a period of time, based on performance," Maxwell said.

The city's police department will be the first of the city's three unions to tie step increases to performance. Maxwell said the city staff was not able to find other municipalities in Ohio with a similar provision.

"I think we're on the front of the comparable research we're doing," he said. "Maybe we can build that off with the other groups."

The new contract creates two new steps for the police division, as well, for the ranks of corporal and sergeant , which carries a benefit to the city, Maxwell said.

"Any time there's more steps, that's a little friendlier to the employer because it stretches out increases," he said.

The shift in health insurance payments also will carry a benefit to the city, Maxwell said.

With employees carrying more of the burden of health-insurance costs, the city expects to see $25,000 in savings on health savings accounts and about $125,000 in savings on premiums, though that dollar figure could be affected when the city rebids its insurance plan later this year, Maxwell said.

"If health care continues to go up as we anticipate, there could be an additional savings. The savings likely will be more," he said. "With an increase in ... costs, we needed to do more to control our health-care cost."

Maxwell said he believes the negotiations were a success for the city because the wage increases will keep the city's salaries competitive within central Ohio, and the changes to insurance will help save the city money.

"It was an amicable negotiation period, and both sides worked well together," Maxwell said.

City council chairman Mike Heyeck also praised the negotiations, saying they were "great negotiations with staff (able) to come to a good outcome."

Contracts with the city's other two unions, which represent Division of Fire employees, and public service and parks-maintenance workers, do not expire until the end of this year.