MANVILLE: New police contract includes smaller increases for officers, benefit payments

By Audrey Levine Staff Writer
   After a year spent negotiating with legal counsels and through mediators, Manville’s new four-year contract with the Policemen’s Benevolent Association includes a 3.8 percent increase in salaries for the officers and officer payments to offset medical benefit costs for the borough.
   ”This is the first time in mediation arbitrators have seen this our way,” Borough Administrator Gary Garwacke said of the benefit payments.
   The Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution Dec. 15 to authorize the new 2008-11 contract. The contract initially was recommended by a New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission arbitrator, then sent to the borough for endorsement.
   ”We spent the entire year with legal counsel negotiating,” Mr. Garwacke said. “We were in mediation with the state, and we didn’t have to go to arbitration.”
   The contract covers officers in the 22-officer department up to the rank of sergeant with salaries ranging from $51,000 for the borough’s newest hires to $97,000. The top sergeant’s pay is $113,000.
   The salaries reflect the officers’ experience — the department’s least experienced officer was hired several years ago — with most having been in the department for more than five years.
   The contract’s 3.8 percent salary raise each year for the officers is a decrease from the previous contract’s increases, which allowed for a 4 percent raise each year.
   ”Now we are under the state-mandated cap of 4 percent,” he said.
   Also, Mr. Garwacke said the officers will pay $25 per month towards benefits in 2009, $30 in 2010 and $35 in 2011.
   The only other change in the contract, Mr. Garwacke said, is the fact monetary payments for other itemized things, including uniforms, will be included in salaries instead of given as separate paychecks. He said the amount of money received will not change from previous years.
   All these stipulations in the contract apply to the superiors — namely the chief, two lieutenants and the captain — as well.
   Other than these changes, Mr. Garwacke said, the contract will remain the same.
   ”And there are similar contracts in other towns,” he said.