New contract gives cops 3% pay hikes

BELLEVILLE – 

Belleville’s police force, from the rookie to the chief, is the beneficiaries of a new labor contract, approved by the Township Council Feb. 10.

An ordinance amending the township police salary guide via an annual pay increase of 3%, across the board for each rank, was adopted following a public hearing.

Police Chief Joseph Rotonda said he recommended that the governing body approve the revised pay scale, given that the department had gone without any increases during the last two years of the old contract with the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association.

Ninety-five members of the department are covered by the new agreement.

Belleville Police Det. Mark Johnson, president of the PBA local, said that the membership voted 36-0 to ratify the 3-year pact at a meeting held Jan. 6. “We’re extremely happy with the new contract,” he said.

The new agreement, which provides for no new benefits or concessions to the township, takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, and runs through Dec. 31, 2017.

Under that contract, a newly hired cop who had started off earning $33,823 while undergoing training will see that pay rise to $36,990 in 2015, $38,100 in 2016 and $39,243 in 2017.

Revised salary steps applicable to anyone hired after July 1, 2007 call for first-year cop’s pay to increase, over the life of the contract, from $44,686 to $47,409; second-year, from $52,391 to $55,582; third year, from $60,096 to $63,756; fourth year, from $67,803 to $71,932; fifth year, $75,508 to $80,106; and sixth year (top step), from $87,470 to $92,796.

Sergeant’s pay will rise over the life of the contract, from $100,564 to $106,688; lieutenant, from $115,648 to $122,690; captain, from $132,995 to $141,095; deputy chief, from $152,944 to $162,258; and chief, from $160,590 to $170,370.

While labor peace between the township and its bluecoats seems assured for the next three years, there remains the matter of diminishing ranks to deal with.

“We have eight or nine officers now in the Academy but we also have at least 20 of our members eligible to go out on retirement,” Johnson noted, and more and more veteran cops around the state have been inclined to leave because of mandated increasing costs of health insurance.

How Belleville officials plan to deal with that possibility remains to be seen. In 2013, the township did promote seven officers to sergeant but it’s likely that additional gaps in the ranks will, ultimately, have to be filled.

 – Ron Leir 

The Observer Staff