St. Charles patrol officers can look forward to getting raises this year and the next three years under a new contract approved by aldermen and the police union, at a cost to taxpayers of about $722,600.
The 2013-14 budget for public health and safety, which includes both the police and fire departments, is $25.67 million and was the only area of the budget to see an increase in the new fiscal year, which started in May.
The budget increase and raises come at a time when the number of calls for police service is at an 11-year low in the city. At 15,727 calls in 2012, officers saw an 18 percent reduction in their call volume since 2008.
The new contract applies only to the police officers in the department, not the police sergeants, who have their own union. But the union contracts with the sergeants and the fire department employees also expire in 2013.
All told, the police department has about 70 employees, making it the second largest department in the city next to public works. There are 52 sworn officers in the department. Budget projections have the cost of police services rising from $16.77 million in the current budget to $18.5 million by the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The new contract provides for 2.75 percent raises on May 1 of each year of the contract from 2013 to 2016. It allows a starting police officer to begin with a salary ranging from $27.65 an hour at the low end to $37.09 an hour at the high end. Top salary is $42.25 an hour.
In other words, police officers can receive step increases in addition to the 2.75 percent raises.
The new contract also increases the differential field training officers receive while performing supervisory duties. Such officers will now receive an additional $6 per hour above his or her regular pay.
There is also an increase in the uniform allowance amount officers receive in each year of the contract. The new uniform allowance will be $825 per year.
And there's a benefit of up to $400 for the purchase of a bulletproof vest.
The union has already ratified the agreement. St. Charles aldermen approved the raises without public comment. Mayor Ray Rogina praised the collaboration between the union and the city.
"Hats off to you and the St. Charles police union for coming to this agreement in a timely manner," Rogina said.