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RUMSON NEARS POLICE CONTRACT THRU 2013

rumson-pdThe borough and its police union are poised to finalize a seven-year contract, ending a three-year deadlock in negotiations. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Rumson officials and police are expected to finally come to a new contract agreement, ending a three-year impasse while avoiding a potentially budget-crushing decision by a state arbitrator, Mayor John Ekdahl said.

“As far as we’re concerned it’s a done deal,” he said.

The seven-year contract, which spans 2007 to 2013, is under review by Policeman’s Benevolent Association Local 345. Ekdahl expects a finalization of the contract by the end of the year. In that case, each member of Rumson’s 15-officer force will receive “a significant check” to end the year, Ekdahl said, though Rumson officials did not have a figure on how much the borough will pay out. However, the money was budgeted in each year of the contract deadlock, so taxpayers won’t be socked with the impact next year, Ekdahl said.

Police have been operating under the terms of their last contract, which expired at the end of 2006. In July, an arbitrator, James Mastriani, handed down a decision that called for 3.5-,  3.5- and 3.25-percent pay increases retroactive through 2007, and increases of 3 percent this year and 2.75 percent next year. Borough officials expressed “shock” at the award, and said it would require layoffs in order to cover the cost. But the P.B.A. went back to the council and asked to restart negotiations.

“We basically negotiated this contract without the arbitrator, but in fairness we did use some of his numbers,” Ekdahl said.

Under the negotiated settlement, for each of 2007 and 2008, officers will receive 3.5-percent increases; 3.25-percent increases for 2009 and 2010; and for the remaining years of the contract will get raises of 2-percent, Ekdahl said.

That was a percentage Ekdahl said the borough was looking for, given next year’s statewide 2-percent property tax cap.

“We all feel comfortable with the three years going forward,” he said.

P.B.A. President Chris Isherwood could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, but said in a press release, “The P.B.A. is pleased with the new agreement and looks forward to working with the mayor and council in the future.”

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