The Fort Atkinson City Council on Tuesday approved a three-year contract with the union that represents police officers.
The contract was ratified by members of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association on Nov. 19 and includes wage increases, changes to benefits and efforts to encourage recruitment of qualified officers. The previous contract was set to expire at the end of 2019.
In past negotiations, the city and police union have agreed on two-year contracts. City Manager Matt Trebatoski said he was pleased to get a three-year deal in place — which is the maximum length allowed by state statutes.
Starting Jan. 1, 2020, there will be a 2.5-percent wage increase across the board for officers. This will be followed by a 1.5-percent increase in January 2021 and another 1-percent hike in November 2021.
Trebatoski said the wage boost is slightly more than in years past, adding that this is to get the city caught up in police officer pay while it can.
“We’re hoping to make up while we have the ability to do so,” Trebatoski said. “This will allow us to catch up with other communities.”
Wages were adjusted for a number of officer classifications.
New officers who need to attend the police academy will be paid a starting wage of $21 per hour. Field training officers — officers who are working to get new hires up to speed — will be paid an extra $2 per hour when actively training an officer.
In the past, field training officers were paid $50 per month a trainee is in the program, regardless if that officer is actually training the new officer.
Also changing is the pay for temporary detectives. In the past, detectives were paid the same as patrol officers. Now, any officer assigned as a temporary detective will be paid wage of $31.873 per hour.
Trebatoski said this increase is designed to encourage officers to take on the increased workload and responsibility that comes with the role.
Policies surrounding the pay of new hires also was changed. Trebatoski said these changes were intended to improve recruitment.
“This will help us attract officers from other agencies,” Trebatoski said.
New hires with previous experience in law enforcement or military police service can be moved to the 36-month pay rate after two years of full-time service with the department.
Additionally, the contract increases officer contributions to the health insurance premiums from 10 percent to 12 percent. It also increases the share officers pay to their pension from 6.4 percent to 6.75 percent — aligning the police department with other city employees.
The contract also changes fair share language to comply with the 2018 Supreme Court Janus decision that ruled government employees can not be forced to pay union dues.
City council members who were in the negotiations with the union — President Paul Kotz and member Mason Becker — said they were pleased with how the talks went. Kotz said the negotiations were “amicable,” and Becker said they were made in good faith.
“There was some give-and-take on both ends,” Becker said. “This is a mutually beneficial agreement.”
A representative from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association did not respond to a request for comment by presstime.
The new contract will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.