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The city of Marco Island’s counterproposal in the ongoing negotiations between itself and the police union could serve as the first step in improving compensation for its officers.

Police Chief Al Schettino met with the union Friday morning at City Hall to deliver the city’s pay proposal, which calls for five percent raises each year and a bump in starting pay. 

Although Friday’s discussions were brief, Gulf Coast Police Benevolent Association President Matt Sellers met with a large contingent of officers afterward to discuss the proposal and said negotiations were “moving in the right direction” in an email the following morning.

“The City’s offer is a three year deal with five percent increases each year,” Sellers wrote. “There is a step plan in the City’s proposal however it is not funded.  They have also increased starting pay to $45,943.00 that benefits officers making less.”

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The city and union have been negotiating over the last few months on a new contract to replace the current one that expires this month.

As part of its initial proposal, the union asked for increases in salary as well as the creation of a step plan so that officers would know how much they would be making as their careers progressed.

During the first round of talks, Schettino called the step plan a necessary measure to not only allow officers to live more comfortably but to improve retention in the department.

Compared to other agencies in the area, the Marco Island Police Department’s figures are near the bottom and coupled with the high costs of living, it has made staying in the area difficult.

Currently, the starting minimum starting salary in the department is $41,612, which pales in comparison to the $66,000 minimum sustainable wage for a family of four in Collier County.

Under the city’s proposal, officers currently making under $45,943 would be bumped up to that amount. At the 10th step of the plan, officers would be making $74,836.30. 

A sergeant at entry-level would start at $55,411. At the 10th step, his or her salary would be $90,260.22.

The proposal all calls for bringing back skills pay in years two and three of the contract.

While some of the officers at the meeting were receptive of the pay increase, the step plan the union was looking for is not currently funded. The union’s response to the proposal included asking for the city to fund the plan.

“Please keep in mind that this is the City’s first response on wages in writing from our initial pay proposal,” Sellers wrote. “Our goal is funding the step plan.”

With the contract still unresolved, the union is working with the city on future dates to meet. Acting City Manager Guillermo Polanco was unable to attend Friday’s meeting.

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