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Town reaches ‘fair’ contract with Police Benevolent Association

The Riverhead Town Board approved a new five-year contract for the Police Benevolent Association that calls for annual salary increases of two percent for each of the first three years and 1.5 percent for each of the past two years.

The PBA has been without a contract since 2015. This contract starts retroactively in 2016 and ends in 2020.

“The PBA’s membership goes to work every day to protect us, and it was only right that we give them a fair deal,” Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said in a release.

Retroactive increases will be paid when the employee leaves the job, and it will be paid based on the then prevailing salary rate of the employee at the time, or the employee’s salary rate as of Jan. 1, 2023, whichever is less, according to the contract.

Councilman Tim Hubbard, who was involved in the negotiations with Ms. Jens-Smith, said the deal is “extremely fair to the town and very fair to the PBA,” during the Riverhead Town Board meeting Tuesday night.

He said the PBA agreed to some givebacks in the deal.

“The PBA realized that they could do more to help the Town cut expenses and they suggested cost saving measures to allow the town to do just that,” Mr. Hubbard said in the release. “I cannot praise them enough for their willingness to work with us to get results not only for their membership, but for Riverhead.”

The contract will make Riverhead the first police department on the East End to have all current employees paying into their health insurance, officials said. Active officers will pay 15 percent into their health insurance premiums and 10 percent of their retirement cost.

Under the previous PBA contract, the town paid 100 percent of their health insurance premiums.

Other “highlights” from the contract, officials said in the press release, include an increase in night differential pay, a shortened promotion timeline for detectives and increased clothing, K-9 and equipment allowances.

“The PBA negotiating team is happy that the current administration was able to work out a fair deal for the PBA and the Town,” said PBA president Dixon Palmer in a release.

The PBA represents police officers and detectives.

The Town agreed to a new contract with the Superior Officers Association in July. The bargaining unit, which represents lieutenants and sergeants, also had been without a contract since 2015.

The board voted 4-0 to approved the PBA contract Tuesday. Councilman Jim Wooten, a former town police officer as well as a former PBA president, was absent.

Mr. Hubbard also is a retired town police officer.

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Photo caption: The Town Board approved the contract Tuesday. (Tim Gannon photo)