TREASURE ISLAND — City police officers and firefighters will see more money in their paychecks starting in October after city commissioners agreed with proposed contract changes Tuesday.
Police officers will see a 3 percent salary boost. Firefighters, who negotiated a totally new contract, will see a 2 to 5 percent increase depending on their years of service. Each contract allows for salaries to be renegotiated each year.
Negotiations started in April with the Sun Coast Florida Police Benevolent Association representing 19 police officers and the St. Pete Beach Professional Firefighters representing 13 firefighters.
Salaries were the only item on the negotiating table for police, while firefighters were negotiating a new contract, said City Manager Reid Silverboard.
The police union had first proposed a 3 percent raise, and the city countered with 1 percent. In May, the city accepted the 3 percent original offer.
"We did that to maintain a competitive salary," Personnel Director Jennifer Poirrier said. "This will keep them within the average range."
The city surveyed salaries of police and fire departments of similar sized municipalities in Pinellas County and found that both police officers' and firefighters' pay needed a boost.
The survey showed that the starting salary for every firefighter position was significantly below the average, Poirrier said.
"It was either the lowest or second-lowest starting pay in the county," she wrote in a memo to the city manager.
The new contract provides a 3 percent salary increase for all firefighters with less than one year of experience. Firefighters at the maximum of their pay grades will receive 2 percent increases. Those with more than one year of experience but who are not at the maximum of their pay grade will receive a 5 percent increase.
Police union members approved their 3 percent increase in a unanimous vote two weeks ago. Last year, police received a 1 to 6 percent raise depending on their years of service.
Firefighters approved their new contract in a 9-3 vote. The new three-year contract also includes language changes to the drug testing policy to reflect changes in the city's personnel manual.
"Negotiations were very professional on both sides," Poirrier said. "I think it went very well."
Ed Broomes, with the firefighters union, and Michael Krohn, executive director of the Sun Coast PBA, agreed.
"Negotiations were satisfactory. It went well," Broomes said.
"They have a great management team there," Krohn said. "They recognized that their officers were behind the eight ball in pay and they are doing their best to get them back to where they need to be."