MERRIMACK — Local police could receive pay raises throughout the next five years under a proposed bargaining agreement supported by town officials.
The town council recently ratified two tentative union contracts for Merrimack police and dispatchers. Both proposals will be considered by voters at the polls in April.
The first contract for the New England Police Benevolent Association, Local 12, covers all police officers, detectives and sergeants with the Merrimack Police Department.
“We reached a tentative agreement with the union for a five-year contract from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2025,” said Paul Micali, assistant town manager.
If approved by voters, local police will receive a combined pay increase of 12 percent by the end of the contract. During the first three years, police would acquire a two percent raise annually, and during the last two years of the contract, police would obtain a three percent raise annually.
The contract also allows for a flexible spending cap of $2,000, as well as a $200 increase in their clothing allowance for police uniforms.
“Uniforms for police officers are becoming very expensive,” explained Micali.
Overall, the cost increase of the contract for all five years is $588,679, which represents about a three cents increase on the tax rate for each of the five years, according to Micali.
The second contract for the NEPBA, Local 112, is a four year contract that will end in 2024. This union represents police dispatchers and police office staff.
If approved at the polls, 11 dispatchers and staff members will receive two percent wage increases for each of the first three years of the contract, followed by a three percent pay increase the final year of the contract for a total nine percent wage adjustment by the end of the contract.
The cost increase associated with the contract, throughout the four years, is $61,553, or about a half-cent increase on the tax rate per year, said Micali.
“I am very happy that both unions have signed these agreements,” said Peter Albert, town councilor, adding it is important for police officers and dispatchers to receive good pay and provide good coverage.
His colleagues on the council agreed.
By having lengthy contracts that extend four or five years, the fixed costs allow town officials to have a better understanding of how to manage various budgets throughout the next several years, explained Bill Boyd, town councilor.
“I think it is in line with previous unions and contracts that we have had,” Nancy Harrington, town councilor, said of the pay increases for police.
According to Micali, the negotiation sessions with both unions were civil and professional, and all groups were understanding about the process.