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West Linn PD negotiates salary hike

Police employees get retroactive raise this year and CPI plus 1 percent for two

West Linn police officers are getting a 3 percent raise, retroactive to July. The three-year agreement, approved unanimously by the city council at a recent meeting, also gives the officers raises in July 2007 and July 2008.

City Manager Chris Jordan told the council recently that salaries during the final two years of the collective bargaining agreement would give officers the consumer price index (CPI) plus 1 percent, with a 3.5 percent minimum and 5.5 percent maximum.

The negotiated settlement came forward at about the same time that voters defeated a police levy to support the costs of 12 officers on the police force.

But Council President Scott Burgess said the two are not related, and justification of the pay hike is not necessary.

'We need to pay our police officers for the job they're doing,' Burgess said. 'The fact is that (our police salaries) are not comparable to other police departments.'

Burgess expressed concern for the stability of the department if the city has a problem affording adequate salaries.

'If you have a police department that's under some stress about the future (lack of a funding levy), and if you're not paying what is comparable to other departments, we're going to lose the people we have.'

The reason for three successive pay hikes above the CPI, Burgess said, is to attempt to catch up with the salaries of other departments.

The new agreement would boost the 2006-2007 monthly base pay for an officer (minus an insurance contribution) to $4,527. Extra pay for special assignments would give 5 percent more to detectives as well as motorcycle and canine officers.

The entire department would be affected, according to Contract Finance Officer Andy Parks, giving raises to 32 people. The total cost of the increase for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, Parks said, is approximately $62,000.

Parks said the budget had $72,000 set aside for the salary hike because administrators had anticipated a raise as high as 3.5 percent. The $62,000 includes the amount of the salary raises as well as about 19 percent in benefits and PERS contributions.

At a recent council meeting, Councilor Michele Eberle held a graph that showed the base-pay salaries of 12 other cities. West Linn's base pay, adjusted with the new contract, Eberle said, is still lower than nine other cities that are considered comparable.

'I think it's a favorable agreement,' she said, 'not only in keeping with what the officers wanted, but in keeping with the financial needs of our city.'




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