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Council debates police salaries

When Waupaca Police Chief Tim Goke received his first paycheck of the new year, the raise he expected to see was not all there.

Goke – and the police department’s other four non-represented employees – saw a 1 percent raise on their paychecks instead of the 3 percent they expected to receive.

Now, $8,000 is being taken out of the city’s reserves to cover the cost of giving the five members of the command staff an additional 2 percent for a total pay raise of 3 percent.

The Waupaca Common Council voted 6-3 to do so during its Jan. 15 meeting.

Voting in favor of it were Deb Fenske, Paul Hagen, Alan Kjelland, Paul Lehman, Eric Olson and Dave Shambeau.

Steve Hackett, John Lockwood and Paul Mayou voted against the motion. Scott Purchatzke was absent.

Lehman, the council’s representative on the Police and Fire Commission, made the motion.

“I don’t remember a discussion about separating the police non-reps from the other non-reps,” he said.

His comment was in reference to the 3 percent pay raise the rest of the city’s non-represented employees received.

The police chief contacted Lehman, questioning the difference.

As a result, the issue went before the Police and Fire Commission on Jan. 8, where it voted 4-0 to recommend the council approve a 3 percent raise for non-represented police department employees.

In the past, there was not a discussion about separating the non-represented police department employees from the city’s other non-represented employees, Lehman said during the Jan. 15 council meeting.

“There should have been a discussion about it,” he said. “They seemed unaware of it.”

The police non-reps are also subject to higher deductibles and not eligible for the Health Reimbursement Arrangement funding the other employees receive from the city, Lehman said.

“The whole thing started with Act 10,” Goke said of the higher deductibles police pay. “The decision was made to balance it out.”

When Act 10 was implemented in March of 2011, it required all municipal employees – with the exception of police and firefighters – to contribute toward their pensions.

In 2012, the city began having two separate health plans: one for employees who contribute to their pensions and a separate plan for the police who are not contributing to their pension.

City employees who contribute to their pensions began having higher deductibles ($2,000 on a single plan and $4,000 on a family plan), and the city also funded a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRS) for them ($1,500 for those on a single plan and $3,000 on the family plan).

The HRA was to cover much of their deductibles, and the city only funded an HRA for the employees (and covered spouses) who had a biometric screening and completed a health risk assessment.

The plan for the police department had higher deductibles than the other plan ($2,000 for a single plan and $4,000 for a family plan), and the city did not fund an HRA for them.

In 2013, the deductibles for employees contributing to their pensions are $2,000 for a single plan and $4,000 for a family plan. The health insurance premium for those on the family plan is 12.6 percent.

The city is funding an HRA of $1,500 for the single plan and $3,000 for the family plan.

The premium for the police is remaining unchanged at 10 percent, with the deductibles this year $3,000 on the single plan and $6,000 on the family plan. The city is again not funding an HRA for those employees.

“There are two things going on here: an additional health-care cost and 2 percent less (of a pay raise),” Goke said.

Mayor Brian Smith said the pension contribution requirements also increased.

A memo from City Administrator Henry Veleker stated that the police contributed 0 percent toward their pension, and the amount the city is required to contibute to it increased from 18.8 percent in 2012 to 20.3 percent in 2013.

For all other employees, the amount employees must contribute toward their pension increased from 5.9 percent in 2012 to 6.65 percent in 2013, with the city’s contribution up from 7.3 percent in 2012 to 8.05 percent in 2013, he said.

“There is no mechanism for law enforcement to pay one-half,” Goke said. “We’re prohibited by law from contributing.”

Lehman said, “What struck me the most is this is something that should have been discussed during the budget discussions. I don’t recall that discussion ever being held. Correct me if I’m wrong.”

The mayor said when staff brought their budgets to him and he then brought the proposed 2013 budget to the Common Council, he believed it included an agreement with the represented police employees that they would receive a 3 percent pay increase and in turn would agree to pay 2 percent toward their retirement.

After the budget was approved, the represented employees turned that down.

There was a renegotiation, with the group not paying anything toward their retirement and receiving a 1 percent pay increase, Smith said.

“The original budget showed the command staff aways getting a net 1 percent increase,” he said. “There was no hidden anything. It was in there from the beginning.”

However, Lehman said that discussion was about the union.

“We never discussed the non-reps, to my recollection,” he said. “It seems to me we shouldn’t have to wait until January to tell our command staff the 3 percent is 1 percent.”

Lehman further said there was never a separation in the past between the non-represented police employees and other non-represented employees.

“Are we going to start separating all departments?” he asked.

Veleker said he understands the police command staff feels it is being treated differently but that since Act 10, the wages for the command staff have been tied to what happens at the union level.

“Do we have $8,000 somewhere in the budget, or are we allowed to extend the HRAs to the command staff?” Lehman asked.

The 2013 budget has been set and taxed for, the mayor said.

“Any money would be taken from a different department or from reserves,” Smith said.

Lehman said, “I understand the reasoning. I understand the numbers. Perhaps, it was implied. We should have had this discussion at budget time for the command staff. In my mind, they were not tied to the union. They were tied to the rest of the non-reps.”

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