Starting city officers likely to get 27% pay jump

YOUNGSTOWN — A three-year contract city council is expected to approve Wednesday would increase the starting salaries of police patrol officers by 27.35 percent, starting Jan. 1, and provide the biggest pay increases in more than 15 years to the most senior members.

The current starting annual salary for police officers is $34,299.20, or $16.49 an hour. Starting Jan. 1, it jumps to $43,680 annually, or $21 an hour. Officers with seven years on the job currently make about $21 an hour.

The police union already has voted overwhelmingly in favor of the deal, said James Rowley, union president.

“It’s not perfect, but it’s the best contract we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “This is the first time in 25 years we didn’t go to fact finding. It moves the starting salary up, which is needed for recruitment. This is a step in the right direction.”

The contract will cost the city about $2.7 million over the life of the deal, not including any new hires, said city Finance Director Kyle Miasek.

“We negotiated in good faith,” he said. “We needed to stay competitive and to do that, we had to provide higher wages. Council and the administration felt that was a requirement when we sat down at the table. We needed to do this to entice people to work for the city. Labor market forces in our geographic region dictated that.”

Like the deal approved last month with the firefighters union, the police patrol contract provides pay raises to only those at the top of the pay scale.

Those officers will get pay raises of 2 percent on Jan. 1, and then 2.5 percent annually in 2023 and 2024.

By Jan. 1, 2024, those at the top of the pay scale will get $62,709.04 in base annual pay.

Meanwhile, those not at the top of the pay scale will move up a step on that scale annually.

The annual salary step increases range from $1,760 to $2,240 for those with less than nine years of experience on the police force. The top annual step increase is just under $1,500.

Of the 95 patrol officers in the union, 46 of them already are at the top of the pay scale, Miasek said. That goes to 51 by the end of 2022 and 56 by the end of 2023, he said.

Because the 43-member ranking police union has a “me-too” clause in its contract — meaning it automatically gets the same raises as the patrol union — it also will see pay increases.

The ranking officers union contract called for a 1 percent raise next year. Those at the top of the scale will instead get 2 percent. Also, those at the top of the scale in the ranking officers union will get 2.5 percent pay raises in 2023 and in 2024.

City workers had received a total of 7.5 percent in raises over the past 13 years, including seven with no salary increase.

The police and fire union pay raises will be the new standard for union contracts, Miasek said.

Unions that signed contracts that run through 2022 that didn’t get 2 percent that year will receive additional raises in future years to make up that difference, he said.

The city has struggled financially for years, but last year it was awarded about $88 million in federal COVID-19 funds, including $82,775,370 from the American Rescue Plan, which more than offsets its losses.



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