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Arbitration Panel Settles Horsham Police Contract

Pay increases will not warrant a tax hike, a township official said.

After working for nearly 18 months under the terms of an expired contract, the has a contract in place through the end of 2014.

Based on contractual terms, which were settled recently by an arbitration panel from the American Arbitration Association, the department's 36 uniformed officers will receive retroactive pay increases of 3 percent for 2011 and 3.25 percent for 2012. In 2013 salary boosts of 3.5 percent would take effect and police would see a 3.75 percent hike in 2014. 

The police contract expired at the end of 2010. The township and the police union, unable to reach an agreement following 15 negotiation sessions over a roughly seven-month period, sought out arbitration in February 2011, according to Township Manager Bill Walker. A hearing was held in June 2011 and the panel rendered its binding decision about two weeks ago, Walker said.

“It’s a pretty balanced award,” Walker said. “We got some things. They got some things.”

In terms of pay increases, for example, Walker said the township had proposed a 2 percent hike, while the police union sought a 4 percent boost. The arbitrator, he said, seemed to "split" the difference between the two.

The total department wide salary increases for 2011 and 2012 amount to $195,000 – money that Walker said the township had put aside in anticipation of a settlement. 

“We knew they were going to get something,” Walker said. “The money’s in our general fund to cover the retroactive pay.”

While the township has not yet begun budget meetings for its 2013 spending plan, Walker said he’s “not anticipating a tax increase.” 

Patch was unsuccessful in reaching Horsham Police Detective Adam Dunning regarding the newly settled contract.

Beside salary changes, Walker said the police have higher healthcare and prescription co-pays under the new contract. Also, the Police Pension Plan has been altered effective June 1 to a Deferred Retirement Option Plan, according to the arbitration award letter submitted to the township.

Another notable change is a shift in longevity pay for police beginning at four years of service, instead of the previous three years of service. The arbitration panel ruled that police with four years of service would receive an annual longevity payment equal to .75 percent of their salary. Longevity payments increase based on years of service beyond that, capping at 4 percent of annual wages for police with 26 years or more.

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