3-year deal for Danville police

3-year deal for Danville police

DANVILLE — Danville police officers today are working under a new three-year contract that was finally settled through binding arbitration.

The agreement — approved by the city council on Tuesday — favored the Danville Policemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Unit 11 when it came to salary and health insurance benefits, but sided with the city on two other issues that had been sticking points during negotiations.

“While I’m a huge opponent to the arbitration process and feel as though having a third-party arbitrator with no invested interest in the city isn’t beneficial to the welfare of the community,” Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said, “I do believe the changes … relating to insurance language and residency will have some short- and long-term benefits.”

The police union represents 52 members. Its new contract is retroactive to May 1, 2012 and runs through April 30.

Under the agreement, members received a 2 percent increase the first year, a 3 percent raise the second year and a 2 percent increase the third year.

Comptroller Gayle Lewis said the raises will cost the city another $88,000 or so the first year, $124,000 or so the second year and $100,000 or so the third year.

In negotiations, the city offered a lower increase in conjunction with “our demand for an increase in employee health insurance contributions,” Eisenhauer said. “So my disappointment is that these wages were awarded without the significant increase we had hoped to realize in employee health insurance contributions.”

Under the deal, employees won’t pay anymore for their health coverage the first two years than they did during the last year of their old contract. Their contribution remained at $130 a month for one dependent and $140 a month for two or more dependents.

They increased this year, but only by $5, requiring employees to pay $135 a month for one dependent and $145 for two or more.

The city had asked for an employee contribution of 11 percent of their planned cost, Eisenhauer said.

“The city would have been able to save $50,000 to $60,000 just in the first year with additional savings the other two years,” he said.

The arbitration agreement did side with the city in its request to change insurance language, putting police union members on the same plan as all other employees, officials said.

“When we deal with insurance companies in the future, we’ll be able to put our entire group of employees together to negotiate a plan, which will help us keep our overall costs for health insurance down,” Corporate Counsel Dave Wesner said.

In addition, the agreement stipulates that employees hired after May 14 must reside within five miles of the city. The union had asked the arbitrator to uphold the prior agreement, which allowed members hired between Jan. 1, 2008 and May 14, to not be held to the restriction.

“I would prefer to see all employees live inside the city,” Eisenhauer said. However, he said he didn’t request that for fear of losing the five-mile restriction.

The police union filed a request for binding arbitration in late 2013, after union and city negotiators reached an impasse over salaries, health insurance contributions and language and residency requirements.

After a short closed session on Tuesday, the council approved the agreement 12-2 with Ward 2 Alderman Rickey Williams and Ward 6 Alderman Steve Nichols in opposition. Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Davis was absent.

Eisenhauer said the city and union will likely begin talks for a new contract by the end of the year.

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