Efficiency, equality, emergency response on deck for city police requests during Monday's council meeting
A one-time salary adjustment, three years of increases, an extra holiday, and a $1,500 stipend have been negotiated into the city police contract that was set to expire on March 31, city management says.
City Council approved the new contract during its business meeting Monday at City Hall.
In an effort to retain employees and become more competitive with cities comparable to Batavia, the deal was struck to bump up salaries with a 3 percent increase the first year, followed by a 2.5 percent for each second and third year, Assistant Manager Erik Fix said.
The total budget impact for the three-year deal is an extra $296,220. Fix was pleased with how negotiations went with the Police Benevolent Association union, which will pay increased healthcare premiums of between 15 to 30 percent.
“We both brought a lot of respect to the table,” Fix said.
June 19, a newly declared federal holiday will be added to the department’s holiday schedule, and, while the average pay is currently more comparable to other cities, the top salary is still above Batavia’s pay, he and City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. This new agreement will bring that more in an equitable range, they said.
The $1,500 stipend, considered much the same as a signing bonus, will be a one-time payment to come from American Rescue Plan Act funds doled out as post-COVID relief monies.
Councilman Bob Bialkowski asked if the extra holiday would cause any issues with overtime for officers. Chief Shawn Heubusch said that extra holiday could be paid out to those not wanting to take the day off, or it could be used as a floating holiday. He didn’t promise that overtime wouldn’t be an issue, though he hoped that wouldn’t be the case.
In other police action, City Council approved spending $62,292 to replace firearms — from the Glock 22, 40 calibers to Glock 17, 9 mm -- a projectile that has come "a long way" in accuracy and precision. The department also asked to purchase five AR-15 rifles to ensure that each member of the department will have access to one during a type of crisis active shooter situation, Assistant Police Chief Chris Camp said.
The detective bureau's vehicles are not currently equipped with AR-15s, he said.
"They can go to the Armory to pick one up, but that's not realistic, in my opinion. We want them to have them in their vehicle ... to save lives," Camp said.
Other equipment requests included community speed display signs and street surveillance camera replacement for $20,908 and $99,700, respectively. Such community displays are “great visual reminders and reinforce the speed limits in appropriate areas,” he said, and cameras have been “instrumental in solving cases across the spectrum for the department.”
Tabelski recommended that the council approve a transfer of $100,000 from video lottery terminal funds (a portion of the city’s total from Batavia Downs’ proceeds) to go toward the equipment expense.
Council approved the transfer and purchases during its business meeting.
Photo: Assistant City Manager Erik Fix and City Manager Rachael Tabelski discuss a PBA contract during Monday's conference session at City Hall. Photo by Howard Owens.