Liberty, police reach deal

LIBERTY – Liberty Township and its police department have reached a tentative agreement on a cost of living raise, as well as an adjustment that will see officers pick up their own retirement costs.

According to township Administrator Pat Ungaro, the two sides recently reached an agreement that will see officers receive a 10 percent increase in their gross pay. In exchange, the township will no longer pay the officers’ contribution to the state Public Employees Retirement System.

Ungaro said that the 10 percent increase in gross pay is not technically a raise; it will be wiped out by the givebacks to PERS.

“This money was always in their pay, but now it’s going to be in their gross pay and they will be getting taxed on it,” Ungaro said. “The benefit of it for the officers is that when they retire, they receive (an average of their three highest wage-earning years) and this will affect those totals.”

Ungaro said that as a part of the new three-year contract, officers will receive a 4 percent cost of living raise. The raise will happen in the first year of the deal, and there are no further increases in the second and third years.

The township works on a tier system anywhere from five to seven years, according to Ungaro. Therefore, depending on the union, new hires will come in at a significantly lower rate and take longer to reach the starting salary that is in place today.

Employees also have an increase in their health care, now covering 12 percent of the cost. They chip in 10 percent currently. Ungaro said the health care is only in place for one year and then employees will be covered under the Affordable Care Act.

Both sides have yet to finalized the agreement, and Liberty FOP President Chad McGarry said Friday evening that he declined to comment until a deal is signed.

The township recently reached a similar deal with its fire department, and Ungaro said that agreements with its secretaries and road department are also close to being finalized.