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Police union approves contract

Crystal River officers would get 3 percent raises each year plus bonuses under the proposal.

By ALEX LEARY

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


CRYSTAL RIVER -- The police union has ratified a two-year contract with the city that provides modest pay raises and revises the sick time policy.

The accord, which covers 19 officers, is awaiting approval by the City Council, which could vote on it Nov. 27.

"We emerged from (negotiations) feeling that we had gotten the best agreement that we could get on both sides," said Police Chief James Farley, who is not a member of the union but acted as an intermediary between the Police Benevolent Association and the city.

In particular, the deal calls for a 3 percent base salary increase in the first year as well as a 2-percent bonus.

Officers would receive another 3 percent salary increase in the second year and a 2.5- percent bonus, according to Farley.

The union had sought combined pay raises as high as 7 percent. Crystal River police officers currently earn between $21,358 and $36,776.

Cpl. Jim Seagreaves said he is disappointed with the proposed contract.

"I understand the city is having a difficult time right now with finances," he said Tuesday, "and I understand this isn't the best time for them to be putting out money, but calls for service have increased. All of us are working a lot harder."

But he said the contract "could have been worse" and credited Patrolman Thomas Craig Reese for making gains.

According to Seagreaves, the city originally offered 1 percent pay raises for "exceptional" employees.

"It was like a slap in the face," he said.

Detective Brian Coleman said he was glad to have a contract but noted that the increases barely cover inflation.

He said he was glad not to have been locked into a three-year contract, as originally sought by the union. "The way things are, the cost of living could go up 5 or 6 percent," he said.

Until now, Crystal River police officers were allowed three sick occurrences in a given year. Those occurrences could last from a few days to a few months.

Although there were no problems, the system lent itself to abuse, said Farley, and was difficult to manage.

Under the new contract, officers will be given 12 days of sick time during the first year of the contract and eight hours per month during the second, said Coleman.

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