For weeks we've been covering the intense negotiations between the City of Pocatello and the police union. Yesterday, those negotiations came to a close.
The city rejected certain requests like overtime pay increases and allowing the department to increase position promotion steps from six to eight to better match other police departments in the area.
However, city officials agreed to a few crucial requests like a base pay increase of five percent at all position levels for sworn officers.
Also, officers can now expect larger shift differentials. Mid-day shifts will receive 18 cents an hour. Swing and afternoon shifts will receive 46 cents an hour. Midnight shifts will get 80 cents an hour.
Union representatives believe this last negotiation session is a good sign of the future relationship between police and city officials.
Patrick Davis is the attorney for the union. He says, "Both sides probably did some soul searching to think about where the other side was coming from a little bit more. At least, that's what it felt like sitting down there. It felt much less confrontational and much less competitive. And so, hopefully, it seems like we ended on a really good note. So hopefully we can take that and move forward."
Police union representatives say salary still remains under market but it's close enough to market now that the department should be able to fill long-standing empty positions.
The city didn't just negotiate with the police Wednesday. The Pocatello Fire Union also accepted an offer.
In the first three meetings with the fire union, the city offered a base salary raise of less than two percent. The union did not agree to any of those offers.
The city came back at the last negotiation meeting and offered the fire union a four percent base pay increase with an additional 2.04 percent to reflect the market value of other city departments.
Union representatives say Pocatello Fire Department is still about 16 percent under market but gladly accepted the largest wage increase it's been offered in over 15 years.
Pocatello Fire Union President Andy Moldenhauer says, "We're really glad that we're done with negotiations. A six percent raise is the single-biggest raise that we've gotten in my 17 years here but we're still way behind. So, we're still trying to work forward and get to where our market is."
In response to yesterday's negotiations the city says, "Employee compensation is always a challenge the city addresses each budget cycle."
City of Pocatello Public Information Officer Logan McDougall continues, "The city is constantly striving to balance the pay of general, police, and fire employees along with its other responsibilities such as parks and streets while recognizing the impact all these decisions have on the city's tax levy."