A three-year contract with unionized members of the police department has been approved by the Lake Township trustees.
Under the agreement approved Tuesday, police officers will receive a 2.5 percent increase in pay next year and in 2014 and a 2 percent increase in 2015.
The officers will have to contribute more for health insurance coverage. Their out-of-pocket premiums will rise from the current 8.5 per cent rate to 10 percent next year, 12 percent in 2014, and 14 percent in 2015. However, vision and dental insurance, which are not covered by the current contract, will be included in the new agreement.
Melanie Bowen, who chairs the board of trustees, said the township will no longer offer life insurance to part-time officers but instead will make one-time payments of $200 to part-time officers who’ve worked 450 hours or more in 2012.
Last year, unionized personnel in the department voluntarily waived pay increases of 2 percent for patrol officers and 2.5 percent for sergeants as a gesture to help the township weather a tough economy that has been battered by lower property valuations and the resulting drop in tax revenues.
Bowen noted that local jurisdictions like townships have also had their share of local government funds from the state decreased.
Police Chief Mark Hummer told the trustees Tuesday that the department’s bargaining unit has unanimously approved the new contract.
The contract covers three sergeants and 17 part-time officers but the part-time personnel aren’t covered by the health insurance package.
Bowen said the trustees will soon begin negotiations with non-unionized personnel.
Radio upgrade nearly complete
The police department’s transition to an 800 megahertz radio system should be completed by the end of the month, Chief Hummer reported to the trustees.
The trustees this summer authorized the purchase of about $130,000 worth of radios and related communications equipment, including $61,915 for portable radios for police, $11,126 for 3 portable radios for the fire department, $40,351 for a radio console for the dispatching center, and $16,670 to contract for narrow banding, relocating radio repeater equipment, and to install dispatching and mobile equipment.
Chief Hummer began a study of converting to an 800-megahertz radio system shortly after the township was hit by a tornado in 2010 and the current system was unable to handle the surge in emergency calls.
With an 800 system, a township police officer involved in a pursuit into a different jurisdiction will be able to call a dispatcher and have a designated radio channel opened instantly. The channel will give the officer a direct contact with other agencies using the 800 system.
In related business, the trustees approved a recommendation of Chief Hummer to promote Todd Cromer, a part-time officer, to full-time, effective Jan. 14, 2013..
He will be on one-year probation.
Having more officers on patrol was one reason the chief pushed for a 1.4-mill replacement levy on the November ballot, which voters approved.
The levy will generate about $220,371 annually for department operations.