A new contract between the city of Utica and its police union was approved Monday, with both city and union officials praising new pay raises, increased tuition reimbursements and other benefits.
Utica’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved the contract between the city and the John E. Creedon Police Benevolent Association in a five-to-zero vote at their meeting Monday morning, according to city records. The five-year contract, which is retroactive to 2021, includes salary increases of 3.2% per year over the five-year period, the city said in a statement released Tuesday.
Under the new contract, officers entering the police academy will start at around $52,000 a year; after five years a patrolman would make around $90,000 a year, PBA President Josh Harrington explained Tuesday.
“I think it’s a well-deserved raise for the men and women in the department,” Utica police Chief Mark Williams said Tuesday.
Both Williams and Harrington said they hoped the salary increases will improve staffing at the department. Williams said there are currently five vacancies at the department that they hope to fill with either lateral transfers or police academy graduates next spring.
“The increase in wages makes us competitive in other departments,” Harrington, a patrolman at the Utica Police Department, said. “The pool of candidates are getting smaller and smaller. There are fewer people who want to be police officers.”
Harrington also highlighted an increase in tuition reimbursement from $35,000 to $65,000 to be split between members
“A lot of our members have bachelor’s and even master’s degrees,” he said, later adding, “We’re always looking to have better training, better education among our officers.”
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In a release Tuesday from the city, officials also credited the relationship with the PBA and the union’s ability to compromise, noting in 2018 the PBA agreed to increase employees’ healthcare contributions to 20%. Harrington said in this contract the union also agreed to switch to a self-insured plan.
“We understand that healthcare is a rising cost and it’s a huge burden on the city,” he said.
“I thank PBA President Josh Harrington for working collaboratively with the Administration on behalf of his membership,” Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said in the city’s statement. “By engaging in substantive dialogue, the city and PBA were able to come to an amicable resolution which will benefit both parties.”
H. Rose Schneider covers public safety, breaking and trending news for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Rose at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Utica, PBA settle on new contract for police officers