SCHENECTADY — The era of unlimited sick time buyouts for the city’s finest is over.
A new collective bargaining agreement reached between the city and Police Benevolent Association has scrapped the practice of outgoing cops cashing out unused sick time upon retirement, resulting in large payouts.
The new five-year deal reached Jan. 14 will allow officers to be paid out 25 percent of unused sick time after reaching 960 hours.
Upon hitting 1,200 hours, outgoing officers will be paid 40 percent of the value, with hours capped at 1,920.
Officers hired before 1997 had unlimited sick time and the increased costs didn’t become evident until recently with the first wave of retirements, said PBA President Det. P.J. Mullen.
“We negotiated an incentive to not use your sick time because the day you retire, there’s a little bit of value behind it,” Mullen said.
Sick time payouts came under City Council scrutiny last fall when city Police Chief Eric Clifford asked lawmakers to approve a $8,175 payout for 758 hours of unused sick time he accrued prior to his promotion, a request that was ultimately tabled.
City Council unanimously approved the new contact Monday.
“I’d like to think it’s a win-win between the city and the PBA,” said city Corporation Counsel Andrew Koldin.
The previous five-year agreement was for the period from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2017.
The new deal is retroactive, becoming effective Jan. 1, 2018 and expiring Dec. 31, 2022.
City police personnel will also receive annual 2-percent raises across the board for a total of 10-percent over the next half-decade.
The newly-inked agreement also increases longevity payments.
From the 10th year of employment through 14th year, personnel will receive a 6.5-percent increase of their base salary; from the 15th to 18th year, 8 percent; 19th, 9 percent; 20th, 9.5-percent; 21st, 10 percent; 22nd, 12.5 percent and 23rd year and thereafter, a raise of 14 percent of base salary.
Mullen said the incentives are designed to retain skilled officers and avoid turnover once they hit the 20-year mark.
The loss of institutional knowledge is particularly acute when it comes to detectives, he said.
The contact also ensures a provision requiring adequate police staffing for at least five wide-scale events per year for when mass gathering permits are issued by the county or state, including events like Schenectady County SummerNight.
“It gives the city the ability to make sure officers are always working,” Mullen said.
Overall, Mullen called the agreement “fair,” noting a tradeoff between pay raises and concessions on health care costs requested by the city as a cost-savings measure.
Under the deal, personnel will now be under the same health insurance plan as county workers.