After months of negotiations Trenton officials ratified contract agreements that included an increase in health care costs for the during a special meeting Thursday night at Trenton City Hall.
The motion to approve contracts for both command and patrol officers was met by a roll call vote in which nearly all city council members voted in favor of the contract agreements with the exception of Councilperson MaryEllen McLeod.
Councilperson Robert Howey was not present for the vote. He asked a letter he had written be read for the record. The letter stated Howey’s disapproval of the agreement.
“After careful review and consideration of the proposed contract I cannot support the plan as presented,” Howey stated in the letter.
In the agreement Trenton police officers agreed to begin paying for 20 percent of their health care costs in agreement with Public Act 152 approved by Gov. Rick Snyder in September 2011.
Mike Hawkins, Trenton police officer and union president, said the goal for the contract agreement was to keep all of Trenton’s current officers working and to keep the city safe.
“We’re happy to have jobs,” Hawkins said. “We’re happy to be working for the City of Trenton.”
Hawkins said the increase in health care costs was “a big hit” to the department. The standard cost for a family health care plan increased from about $60 per month to about $249 per month.
“That’s a huge jump from where we were at,” Hawkins said. “Not everyone is happy about it, but we understand that that’s the route everyone is going in the public sector.”
Trenton police officers made other concessions in the agreement including giving up five percent of their annual pay, which they have done for the past three years.
According to previous contract agreements, officers have not been allowed the opportunity for an increase in pay since 2009.
“I think we (Trenton Police Department) are the place to work,” Hawkins said. “We are the place to be ... and hopefully we will be hiring to fill some spots that have been vacant for a while.”
The City of Trenton has been on a hiring freeze since May with the exception of a to hire three nonunion positions with the Trenton Police Department.
*A previous version article stated officers have made concessions for the last four years and had not received raises since 2008.
**This article was updated at 2:02 p.m. July 13.