Nelson police are getting a raise.
The City of Nelson and the Nelson Police Association have signed a new collective agreement that will mean pay increases of 2.4 per cent per year retroactive to 2013 when the current agreement expired until 2019.
That’s a total of 17 per cent over seven years.
“The increases are on par with the industry standard for municipal police in BC,” said Acting Sgt. Brian Weber, the police association president. “It seems to be a fair deal for us. The city gained a concession around banking sick time, and we won some around training pay and Family Day, the new stat holiday. It was a good, fair give and take.”
Mayor Deb Kozak said the city has been putting aside money each year since 2013 in anticipation of having to make a retroactive payout. But the increases over the next few years will need to be budgeted for. She said the total additional cost to the city’s budget will run from $24,000 for 2013 to $350,000 in 2019.
Asked how much this might affect property taxes, she said, “As with other cost increases, council will look at its overall budget and ultimately decide whether they can reduce other costs or increase taxes.”
In addition, the police board (funded by council) will be hiring another officer and a support person in the new year because it was ordered to do so by the provincial director of police services last year as a result of his review of Nelson police staffing. That will mean a cost of about $150,000 in 2017.
Salaries in the agreement that expired in 2013 ranged from a third class constable at $68,584 to a sergeant at $102,467 per year. This range does not include the police chief, who is not part of the union.
Asked why it took three years to get a new contract, Kozak, who heads the police board, said, “Both police and the fire department have been reluctant to begin bargaining until they see settlements in the rest of the province.”
Weber said the new agreement contains pay increases almost identical to a recent agreement in Delta, one of the 10 municipal police forces in BC.
Asked about the tone of the negotiations Weber said, “It was professional and concise,” while Kozak said, “We had good positive relationships at the bargaining table.”
Weber said that although he was satisfied with the contract, Nelson police are still the lowest paid in the province.
In addition to the Nelson Police Association, city workers are represented by three other unions.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) recently served strike notice on the city, after stalled bargaining. CUPE’s contract expired in 2015.
The city’s contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers expires in April, 2017.