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Portage Police officers to get raises under new contract

screenshot from City of Portage YouTube video
Portage Police Chief Michael Candiano and City Attorney Dan Whitten discuss the police department's collective bargaining agreement with the Portage Board of Works on June 14.

Portage Police officers are set to get a pay raise. The city's board of works finalized a three-year collective bargaining agreement Tuesday, following the city council's approval last week.

City Attorney Dan Whitten said the contract will be retroactive to January 1 of this year and remain in effect through the end of 2024. "It's a three year contract: first year, a four-percent increase; second year, six-percent increase; third year, eight-percent increase, except for senior master patrol officer. We can't raise that one," Whitten told the board of works Tuesday.

The new agreement also removes the one-year probationary pay period, allowing new officers to start at the full first-class patrol officer's salary, while officers with three years of experience elsewhere can hire in at a master patrol officer's salary.

Police Chief Michael Candiano said the changes will help Portage compete with neighboring agencies. "It's pretty competitive right now. A lot of places are hiring, lots of retirements, lots of turnover, and the pool is shrinking, unfortunately," Candiano told board members.

But paying for the raises could be a challenge. Council President Collin Czilli said the city will have to dip into federal American Rescue Plan funds for this year and then hope new development brings in enough revenue to sustain them going forward.

"But at the end of the day, our police department needs to be competitive with other departments in the region. And I think this contract gets us there," Czilli said during last week's council meeting.