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By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Set annual raises for represented Keizer Police officers provide some certainty for future budget planning, city staff said this week.

The Keizer City Council ratified a three-year contract this week between the city and the Keizer Police Association at its meeting Monday night. It includes annual cost of living increases of 2.5 percent over the past three years. Officers opted last year not to take COLAs in order to save an administrative position in the department.

“We believe the agreement represents a great balance between careful management of resources and the need to ensure we are able to fairly provide wages and benefits, said Machell DePina, the city’s human resources director.

Previously those increases were tied to the Consumer Price Index provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. DePina said the change to fixed raises adds certainty that wasn’t there before.

“[It provides] more opportunity for financial planning without dealing with the unknown,” DePina said.

Other facets of the new deal include:

• A new lower step for new hires, allowing the ability to hire new officers at lesser pay.

• An additional higher half-step for officers with 10 years of service and a satisfactory performance appraisal.

• Concessions by officers on contract language and changes to operations, particularly training, that will cut overtime and comp time costs.

In other business:

• The council appropriated $94,529 to Signal Construction Group to complete a project that will integrate traffic signals along Lockhaven Drive. A similar system is already in place on River Road.

It’s scheduled to be completed by the end of June. Bill Lawyer, interim public works director, said it allows signals to communicate with one another for better traffic flow. Stoplights on River Road are set up so that traffic on the city’s main arterial gets priority.

“They might see a smoother commute between Lockhaven and River Road than they’re currently seeing, both in the morning and in the afternoon,” Lawyer said.

• The group approved a population projection of 48,089 in 2032. That number will be used during the periodic review process, which could result in the city seeking an urban growth boundary expansion.