Fayette County

Mayor signs police pact

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry signed the city's collective bargaining contract with police officers Friday.

"I strongly support this contract and our police officers, and I am glad to resolve any uncertainty about the status of the contract," Newberry said in a news release.

"We're pleased as punch," said Mike Sweeney, president of the Bluegrass Lodge No. 4 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

The FOP had been preparing to take legal action against the city if the contract remained unsigned on Monday, Sweeney said.

The signing came one day after Newberry and the Urban County Council reached an impasse over the contract's approval process. Newberry wanted the council to either approve the contract or give him the authority to sign it.

Since it was not involved in the negotiations, the council did not want the responsibility of approving the contract. The council also did not want to specifically direct Newberry to sign the contract.

The council was asked to approve the contract because of a change in the law department's interpretation of the legislation that gave police the right to collectively bargain with the city.

All six of the city's previous collective bargaining contracts — including the two community corrections contracts signed by Newberry last year — have been negotiated and approved without council input.

Newberry chose not to sign the contract Thursday.

"After several council members indicated last night that they do not want to be involved in the approval process of this contract, and indicated their general support for this agreement, it is the opinion of the law department that I can move ahead and sign it, in keeping with the precedent established by former Mayor Teresa Isaac," Newberry said in a news release.

The three-year agreement covers police officers and sergeants and will run through June 30, 2011.

The FOP had a vested interest in seeing the contract signed as soon as possible because only one financial aspect is retroactive to the July 1 start date — this year's pay raise.

Other financial elements, such as an increase in tuition reimbursement and court pay if officers meet with attorneys or perform work directed by attorneys outside of regularly scheduled hours, go into effect after the signing of the contract.

"It's been a long unnecessary process," Sweeney said.

Newberry wants the city's law department to work with the FOP and the General Assembly to clarify the state statue that gives police the right to collectively bargain. The statute is ambiguous because it does not stipulate whether the council needs to approve the contract or not.

Other details of the police contract include:

■ Allowing officers who live in one of the six counties adjacent to Fayette County to commute to and from home using their police cruisers. The officers will reimburse the city for each mile they drive beyond Fayette County. Currently, officers who live in another county are not allowed to drive their cruisers past the county line.

■ A $1,300 raise per officer in the first year of the contract. The raise averages out to a 2.3 percent increase, which is equal to the raise that the city's non-sworn employees received. Officers will get a 2.75 percent raise in the second year of the contract and 3 percent in the third year.

■ Applicants for a promotion to lieutenant must have a bachelor's degree.

■ City life insurance on officers is increased from $10,000 to $25,000.

■ The city will not use covert electronic surveillance equipment while investigating an officer, with the exception of a formal administrative complaint or a criminal investigation.