City of Poulsbo, police ink contract on pay

POULSBO — Three months after a fisticuffs over the mention of contracting out the city’s police services to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Wednesday night’s approval of the new city’s new police officers contract and police chief wage scale was a walk in the park.

In a unanimous vote, the Poulsbo City Council gave its final OK to a three-year contract with the Poulsbo Police Officers Association and upped the salary for the new police chief.

Retroactively effective Jan. 1, 2007, new officers with either six months of training or completion of a law enforcement academy will start at $50,658 annually. Their wages top out at $58,698 each year, not including overtime or holiday pay.

For the department’s three sergeants, earnings begin at $57,096 and max out at $66,164 per year.

City human resources analyst Deanna Kingery said until the contract was signed, officers were paid at their 2006 rates, and the 4 percent difference in pay will be applied retroactively.

On July 1, department personnel will receive another pay increase averaging $650 annually.

The city’s new police chief wage scale begins at $86,261 and peaks at $100,000 annually.

“One hundred percent of our officers back this contract,” said PPOA president Shawn Ziemann. “Now we can focus on our doing our jobs and not worry about finances.”

Even though this year’s negotiations got off to a rocky start because of the outsourcing issue, once it was resolved, things went pretty well, Ziemann said.

“Now we can focus on the future and where we want our department to be,” he said.

The association also supports the salary increase for the new police chief, he said.

“In order to get good candidates we had to raise it,” Zeimann said. “It was one of the best decisions the council made.”

Before the increase, captains and lieutenants in law enforcement agencies along the Interstate 5 corridor made more than the city’s police chief, Ziemann said.

That sentiment was echoed by interim Police Chief Jake Evans, who told the council that the increase was necessary based upon his own experience in police chief searches.

The city of Othello set its chief’s salary at $86,000 in 2005 and had a difficult time filling the position, he said.

“They had to go through two processes, because there weren’t enough qualified candidates,” Evans said.

Before the council approved the contract and police chief salary increase, Poulsbo resident John Eastman asked if the $100,000 chief’s salary was necessary.

“I ask the council and mayor to give through and deliberate thought to the decision,” Eastman said.

Money should not be the determining factor for someone seeking to be the city’s next police chief, and the council needs to do everything possible to find someone willing to make a long-term commitment to the city, he said.

Mayor Kathryn Quade assured Eastman the increase was required to attract a large enough pool of qualified candidates and the decision will be based on who’s best for the position.

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