WESTFIELD, NJ — Police brass here have something to be thankful for: pay raises approved by the local government.

The Town Council approved the municipality’s contract with the Westfield PBA Local 90A Superior Officers Association Nov. 26 and is anticipated to finalize the accompanying salary adjustments following a public hearing on them next Tuesday.

The salary adjustments included in the ordinance show pay hikes ranging from 2.5% to 3% for 2019 through 2022 for the department’s highest-ranking officers. No such agreement has been reached with the PBA Local 90, the town’s rank-and-file police union, the contract for which expired at the end of last year.

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Kim Forde, spokeswoman for the town, explained why the pay adjustments show as higher in the salary ordinance than they do in the contracts.

“The average salary increases in the approved agreement range between 2–2.25% per year,” Forde said. “As has been our practice in the past, the agreement also includes comparability adjustments that were recommended by the independent mediator, based on market conditions and the Town Council’s emphasis on compensating employees for the value they provide. Health insurance contributions remained the same.”

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Officers in Westfield responded to 45,658 calls for service in 2018, according to Police Chief Christopher Battiloro. In September, the Town Council approved the promotions of two police officers to the role of sergeant and hired one new police officer. The town also recently transferred management of its crossing guards to the national security firm, All City Management Services.

While the PBA Local 90A contract was not made public Tuesday, pending its approval by the mayor, the ordinance introduced by the council details the pay hikes as follows:

  • Police department captains will receive a retroactive raise of 2.9% for 2019 and pay hikes of 2.5% in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Captains will earn a base salary of $144,404 in 2019.
  • Police department lieutenants will receive a retroactive pay hike of 2.9% for 2019 and pay hikes amounting to 2.5%, 2.6% and 2.6% in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Lieutenants will earn a base salary in 2019 of $134,133.
  • Police department sergeants will receive a retroactive pay hike of 3% for 2019 and pay hikes in the amount of 2.6% in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The base salary for a sergeant will be $124,899 in 2019.

The contract’s approval follows the expiration of a state law that limited arbitration awards in public safety employee contract disputes to 2%, something that both the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Association of Counties have urged New Jersey lawmakers to renew as a means to better control property taxes.

“The 2% cap on binding interest arbitration awards has kept public safety employee salaries and wages under control simply because parties have been closer to reaching an agreement from the onset of negotiations,” the organizations write in statement on the law enacted in 2011.

In addition to approving pay hikes for police brass next week, the council is anticipated to approve an updated salary ordinance that sets the range of pay for the police chief at $145,665 — $165,302.

Councilman Mark LoGrippo this week noted that the contract renewal for the PBA Local 90 looms nearly a year after its expiration.

“There seems to be a delay with the [PBA Local 90],” LoGrippo said. “They haven’t settled yet. That’s the big one.”

What’s next?

A second reading and public hearing for the salary ordinances is set for Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. in the council chambers of the Municipal Building at 425 East Broad St.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh

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