UPDATE: Mayor, Chattanooga police reach compromise on new pay pl - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Mayor, Chattanooga police reach compromise on new pay plan

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE:  It was a historic day for Mayor Andy Berke and Chattanooga’s finest.

After months of negotiating with local police employee groups and members of Chattanooga Police Department, Mayor Berke unveiled a new police pay plan.

Officers tell Channel 3 it’s been an issue among the department for years and has even been the subject of multiple lawsuits.

The mayor, along with local police employee groups, signed an executive order Monday outlining the new police pay plan. The order shows officers the city is committed to the plan for years to come.

“It takes a lot of angst, a lot of stress and a lot of negative attitudes and puts them to rest,” Fraternal Order of Police, Rock City Lodge #22 President Sean O’Brien said.

The new pay plan levels the playing field for officers by outlining pay raises based on an officer’s rank and years of experience; something the department has never had before.

Mayor Berke says not only the plan make pay among officers fair, but also predictable.

“I’ve been here this long, I’m this rank. This is what I’m going to get paid,” Berke said.

Officers say the new pay plan along with fresh ideas from new Chief Fred Fletcher are improving moral throughout the department overall and believe the changes are a step in the right direction not just for the group, but the city as well.

“Having this type of relationship with the mayor’s office, the council and the chief is unprecedented,” O’Brien said.

The mayor included the $950,000 needed to fix the broken pay structure in this FY2014/2015 Operating Budget. The changes took effect on July 1st.

Six months after reaching a consensus on reforms to the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund, a combined effort by the City of Chattanooga, Police Employee Groups and the Chattanooga Police Department has resulted in release of the CPD’s new police pay plan.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with support of the Fraternal Order of Police (Rock City Lodge #22), National Black Police Officers Association (Chattanooga Chapter), and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (Local #673) Monday.

“I hear from our officers, time and time again, that these ongoing pay issues impact officer morale,” said Mayor Berke in a news release Monday. “If we are going to ask officers to provide the very best service to our community, we must ensure they have a pay plan that is consistent, fair and transparent.”

Berke allocated $950,000 to fix the police pay structure in his 2014/2015 operating budget.

The pay structure of the Chattanooga Police Department has been at the center of several controversial decisions during the last few years, and Berke pledged to fix the problems after reforms to police and fire pensions resulted in a savings of approximately $5 million dollars.

“What I’ve seen in this Mayor and this administration is a commitment to working together,” said Sean O’Brien, President of the Fraternal Order of Police in a news releases issued by the Mayor’s office. “Restructuring a pay plan is not easy work but the administration listened to employees and employee groups. They took this issue seriously, showing a genuine commitment to public safety as well as a desire to recruit, retain, and develop talent within the police department.”

The MOU defines a mutual commitment between employees and the City of Chattanooga to find a mutual middle ground, while demonstrating the need for predictable raises based on years of service and rank.

The agreement also states that it is “incumbent on the leadership of the City of Chattanooga to respect this Pay Plan and to fully support it in present and future budgeting.”
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