LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - After more than a year of negotiations, the City of Lawton and the police union have agreed to a contract for the 2017 - 2018 fiscal year.
The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, meaning the police union has been working without a contract for the last 7 months. They finally got a contract worked out Tuesday that will bring the starting salaries of officers up to $40,913.60. That's something the union had been pushing for to make the salary comparable to other agencies in our area.
Every officer currently making under $40,913.60 per year will receive a pay increase up to that amount. Union President Clay Houseman said several officers will also receive a one-time bonus in the coming weeks.
"Part of the public safety money that everyone hears about, there is going to be a $4,900 bonus/stipend, however you want to call that. It's going to be an extra check given to all of the police officers that are eligible," Houseman said.
Every officer making above the new $40,913.60 minimum salary will receive that bonus. Houseman said every officer will also be able to receive their step increases, which were frozen by the city last July.
"Step increases are very important to the officers because step increases are in our contract," Houseman said. "What they are is when an officer is hired at a certain salary when he first comes in as a recruit, it is broken down with step increases each year. If he gets an evaluation of standard or above standard he would get a pay raise of 5 percent or 2.5 percent each year."
In addition to that, every police officer will receive a 2-percent salary increase. That increase is to account for the increased cost of living in Lawton. Houseman said the city and the union began negotiations in January 2017 with hopes they would be finished by the time the contract went into effect in July 2017. Even though it took a little bit longer than he'd hoped, Houseman said he feels reaching this deal shows that public safety is important to the city of Lawton.
"I think that the community is behind us and I believe that public safety to the community and the council is very important and I think that's going to bring us into where we need to be," Houseman said.
While this round of negotiations has finished, Houseman said they are already beginning negotiations for next year. This current contract expires June 30 so they now must work out a contract for July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
"We have already sent a letter to the city to start the negotiation process for that and hopefully we can get something done with meeting with them and get that done so that we can be done by July first and have that signed and not be like last year where we both kind of ended up going a little bit longer than what we wanted," Houseman said.
7NEWS reached out to city management and while they refused to do an interview, they did issue a statement saying "We are pleased to have been able to provide the kinds of financial incentives that were agreed upon. The cooperation of everyone involved -- City Council, Management and the Police Union's leadership -- was appreciated by all. We look forward to immediately getting back to work on next year's agreement"
None of the pay increases will be retroactive back to last July, meaning they will all only take place starting on the next check.