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Bainbridge council approves new police contract
The Bainbridge Island City Council unanimously approved a new contract for its police union Monday.
The contract has been a long time coming. Negotiations between the city and the Bainbridge Island Police Guild were on and off for more than a year, and talks broke down this spring and a mediator was called in to resolve the impasse.
The contract covers the period of Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2015.
Under the three-year agreement, Bainbridge Island police officers will get a 2 percent increase in pay, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014 for those currently with the department.
Officers will also get a cost-of-living increase of 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent under the new agreement in January 2015 when the base wage scale is increased.
"It takes a lot of work to put these together, and I appreciate the effort on behalf both the police department and the city staff, so thank you," said Bainbridge Mayor Anne Blair after the contract was approved at this week's council meeting.
The contract was approved on a 5-0 vote; Councilwoman David Ward and Councilwoman Sarah Blossom were absent.
The union vote on the new agreement wrapped up late Friday night. The contract will be binding once it is signed by City Manager Doug Schulze.
The approval of the contract without mediation shows the relationship is strong and positive between the city and the union, said Police Chief Matthew Hamner.
"Overall, I think it shows progress when you don't have to go to arbitration and you can settle it outside of that and have it approved," Hamner said.
There was give-and-take from both sides during contract talks, Hamner said, but having the contract resolved will let both sides move forward.
"Anytime you are in contract negotiations it is a distraction. Now that we've settled it we can focus energy on the areas that are more needed," he said.
"It helps us be more productive, because with the distraction of an unsettled contract, it can affect morale and it can affect the working relationship between the union and the city — which is not conducive to a positive working environment," Hamner said.