Lawrence police officers are asking for a pay increase of less than 5 percent for each of the next three years, the officers' lead negotiator said this morning.
Members of the Lawrence Police Officers Assn. and city officials met formally this morning for the first time this year to settle a work agreement for 1994.
Jim R. Miller, LPOA chair, said the proposed pay increase would be in line with requests from 14 other police departments in the region. He refused to discuss specifics, however, until after the city had a chance to respond to the proposal, at an 11 a.m. meeting Tuesday.
"The LPOA feels like we had a very good opportunity today to bring up issues (of concern)," Miller said. "There's definitely areas where we compare well ... but there's issues that are lacking in the current agreement."
The current work agreement, which included a 3 percent pay increase this year, expires Dec. 31. Representatives spent about two hours this morning discussing the LPOA proposal, which addresses 12 issues for negotiation.
Rod Bremby, assistant city manager, said he was confident an agreement could be reached by the second week in June. If not, a mediator would be called in.
"This is a very tenuous process, and it's highly volatile," Bremby said. "We're just wanting to make sure there aren't any critical missteps along the way."
Bremby said the city needed to consider a possible decrease in revenues next year, as compared with years past. Sales taxes are flat, and property tax reclassification will cut growth-related increases.
"We need to look at what is practical, what is affordable and what is doable," Bremby said.
The police proposal has been five months in the making, and considered contracts from 14 other departments in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma and Nebraska, Miller said.
"Our proposal is more than reasonable," he said before this morning's meeting. "It has been thoughtfully considered."
The LPOA represents 72 officers and 10 detectives in the Lawrence Police Department, but the contract will affect all 101 officers, which includes sergeants and lieutenants and the chief, Miller said.
The proposal includes provisions for wages, working conditions, equipment, clothing allowances and educational incentives.
The city's negotiating team includes Bremby, Chief Ron Olin, Lt. Dan Affalter, City Clerk Ray Hummert and Karen DeGasperi, who works with personnel matters for the city.
The officers' team includes Scott Connell, Peyton Robinson, Doug Miller and Jim Miller, who was elected chair in December.