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posted: 12/18/2012 11:40 AM

Roselle police contract lowers pay, benefits for new hires

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Roselle has reached a two-year contract agreement with its police union that officials said will keep spending down while satisfying current officers.

The pact between the village and the Metropolitan Alliance of Police starts Jan. 1 and reduces wages, vacation and sick leave benefits for new hires. It also includes a 2 percent salary increase for all patrol officers in each year of the deal.

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The police department currently has 31 officers, but is budgeted for 33. Chief Steve Herron said he's looking to hire a new officer who could potentially start Jan. 7 and that candidate understands the changes.

"Our officers wanted this done before the new year so new hires could be aware of the changes," he said.

The agreement was made with limited legal support and good communication with the union, Herron added.

"We're thrilled," he said. "We think it's a good agreement."

This is a change from just three years ago, when Roselle was facing a nearly $1 million shortfall in its operating budget -- which largely funds payroll expenses -- and the village and police union failed to agree on cost-cutting measures.

As a result, two officers were laid off.

Last month, Roselle officials passed a 2013 budget that still has a general fund deficit. But that had shrunk from $1 million in 2010 to $56,000.

Village Administrator Jeff O'Dell said the progress is due in part to cooperation and open communication between employees and management.

"I think it shows cooperation between our police officers and our village and recognition that long-term financial sustainability took efforts on both sides," O'Dell said.

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