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March 29, 2013

City, police unions cut new contract deals

The city and its two police unions, one for patrolmen, the other for supervisors, have ratified new three-year contracts that provide 2 percent annual cost-of-living salary increases as well as a variety of stipends, but the contracts also contain counterweights favoring taxpayers — including reduced sick leave and sick leave buyback and elimination of the obligation of the city to pay retiring officers for unfulfilled shift swaps.

Chief Leonard Campanello said Thursday that the net increase in the cost of the new contracts was not yet calculated or clear, nor would it be until the budgeting process for the fiscal 2014 budget, which begins July 1. The settlement of the contracts — for the superior officers, that is lieutenants and sergeants in one pack, and the patrolmen in another — were the first in the latest round of municipal union agreements.

The city Thursday declined to release the ratified contracts, which have been approved by both sides, instead substituting a memo from Campanello to Mayor Carolyn Kirk. In addition, the chief briefed the Times on the terms in the memo via a telephone interview Thursday. The ratification by the city leaves the City Council with the indirect power to appropriate funding.

“I have no hard numbers” on the fiscal impact, Campanello said, but he added that the contracts met the goal of providing a “level services budget for 2013.” Efforts to reach Lt. Joseph Fitzgerald, president of the officers’ union, and Detective Jeremiah Nicastro, president of the patrolmen’s union, were unsuccessful Thursday.

“Both sides benefited and showed mutual respect. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Campanello said, adding that the contracts were resolved in six sessions over 31 days beginning at the end of January.

The rapid settlement of the contracts came during the first year of the department’s leadership by a chief selected from outside the force and following the elimination of the old system under the rules of Civil Service.

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