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Bradenton Police agree not to ask for raises in new contract

BRADENTON — The city of Bradenton and Bradenton Police Department officers’ union have reached an agreement in salaries that would allow for no raises for one year.

“We didn’t ask for any raises. We understand the financial impact of the last year and what the city has gone through. The officers understand that,” said Bradenton Police Sgt. Brian Thiers. “Hopefully, a year from now we’ll be in a better position to go back and negotiate better wages.”

The contract extension was agreed upon this week. The officers voted to ratify it.

Officials said there were no other benefits added for officers in the contract negotiations. There were only minor language revisions, Thiers said.

Contracts traditionally last for three years. This contract begins Oct. 1 and will last through Sept. 30, 2010.

This year officers representing the department’s union, the Florida Police Benevolent Association, asked for a one-year extension of their current contract for approximately 100 sworn officers.

The union represents officers, detectives and sergeants.

A separate union, which represents lieutenants, is expected to begin negotiations soon.

“I just thought it was realistic of them coming to the table saying we’re not looking for a pay raise knowing what the city is going through and not having the tax base we used to have,” said Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski.

Administrators and the chief have not had raises in the past few years, Radzilowski said.

The past year, the department has continued to tighten its belt with expenses. Officers living outside the city limits now have to pay to have a take home car. Officers who live outside the county don’t qualify for take-home car now in an effort to save vehicle expenses.

“It all depends on the economy,” Radzilowski said.

The department used to pick up the tab on officers’ dry cleaning uniforms. Now, they are limited to two sets. Officers no longer receive extra training unless it’s something required for state certification, Radzilowski said.

Grants and forfeiture funds are being used to support needed personnel and buy any new equipment, he said.

Recently the department received a $1.1 million federal grant to hire six new officers.