Warren Township and the Warren Township PBA Local 235 have inked a new four-year contract that includes several provisions the township hopes will help reduce long-term costs.
The new agreement includes a 25 percent cut in the starting salaries of new officers hired, a schedule of raises that pushes back the length of time before officers reach maximum salaries, and pay raises averaging 1.75 percent annually for 2012-2015.
"The Township Committee's goal was to control the long-term costs and this contract does that," Township Administrator Mark Krane said Friday, following the Township Committee's approval of the agreement at Thursday's meeting. The PBA membership had approved the contract earlier this week.
PBA President Robert Ferreiro said the new contract's terms were consistent with terms in other recent police contract agreements in the county.
"We are happy to move forward, and I believe the contract is fair for both the township and the PBA," he said. "Our main priority is to provide the absolute best quality police service to the township and its residents."
The agreement sets the starting salary for police officers hired after November 2012 at $45,000; the previous agreement had inflated the starting salary to $60,400. Krane said the contract also institutes an 11-step salary schedule for new officers, instead of a five-step schedule.
"So it was five years to get to the top grade—under the new system, it will take 10 years," Krane said.
Krane said the contract's annual increases average under 2 percent—another of the Township Committee's goals in the new agreement—with increases of 2 percent for 2013, 2.25 percent for 2014, 2.75 percent for 2015, and no increase for 2012.
"Honestly, all of the employees of the township in the last year or two have had a year with no increases," he said.
The contract is also under the state-mandated requirements for pension and health care costs instituted in 2010 and 2011, which further add to reducing long-term cost for the township.
This article was edited to include the comments from PBA President Robert Ferreiro.