HAVERHILL — Twenty senior officers and the police chief are getting 10.25 percent pay raises in a new contract.
In exchange for the raises, the police superior officers agreed to let the city test them for illegal drugs — a provision that Mayor James Fiorentini said he will push for in future contract talks with Haverhill’s patrolmen and firefighters.
The superior officers are the first public safety group to agree to let the city test their blood for illegal drugs, including marijuana and steroids.
The top cops also agreed to let the city install GPS tracking devices in their vehicles, something the department’s patrolmen recently agreed to.
City Council approved the superior officers’ contract swiftly and unanimously Tuesday night without debate or comment.
The superior officers’ new contract covers four years from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2016. The pact includes pay raises of 5.5 percent over that span.
It also includes another 4.75 percent in retroactive pay increases to make up for larger pay hikes given recently to police patrolmen and firefighters. The city gave the larger pay increases to resolve contract disputes with unions representing those workers.
City officials said the city likely would have had to at least match monetary awards given to the patrolmen and firefighters had negotiations with the superior officers gone to arbitration, which were scheduled earlier this month but cancelled as a result of the contract agreement.
According to the drug-testing provision, the city has the right to test new officers shortly after they are hired and any officer the city has “reasonable suspicion” to believe reported to work under the influence of an illegal drug or used an illegal drug in the recent past.
The city may also test any officer involved in a job-related accident that includes an unsafe practice or violation of a safety rule that resulted in serious injury or property damage, the contract says.
The Eagle-Tribune reported this week that police Chief Alan DeNaro, who as public safety commissioner oversees both the police and fire departments and is the city’s emergency management director, recently agreed to a four-year extension of his contract through 2019.
DeNaro was paid $215,000 last year, according to city payroll records, and his contract stipulates that he is to receive any pay increase given to the superior officers. The pay raise applies to his annual $168,000 police chief salary, but not the extra $26,000 he receives as public safety commissioner or his emergency management director stipend.
Mayor James Fiorentini said there are no more pay increases in the police chief’s new deal. DeNaro said he is eligible for any pay raises given to other department heads, but that there are no more pay increases scheduled in his new contract.
Three unidentified police sergeants are also to receive $8,500 per year in special education incentive pay in the new contract.
Lewis Poore, a retired deputy fire chief and member of the Haverhill Retirement Board, attended Tuesday’s meeting.
After the contract was approved, Poore said the pay increases for DeNaro and the other officers are hypocritical, given Fiorentini’s refusal to approve the Retirement Board’s proposal to marginally increase payments to low-income city retirees. The mayor has said the city cannot afford to increase payments to retirees.
The Retirement Board wants to increase the pension payments by raising the maximum base amount on which annual 3 percent cost-of-living pay hikes would apply. Increasing the base amount by just $1,000 would give retirees an extra $30 per year, Poore said.
“I have nothing against the police chief or the other officers, but I don’t think it’s right for the mayor to say the city can’t afford a small increase for the retirees and then give large increases to the police chief and other officers,” Poore said. “Giving $60,000 in raises to five people and then denying the lowest paid retirees isn’t right.”
Fiorentini has said raising the cost of living base for retirees by $1,000 would cost the city $178,000 and add about $2 million per year in future unfunded pension liability. Poore said the city’s retirement system is in much better condition that the mayor suggests.