Findlay Council voted Tuesday to approve new contracts with the police and fire unions that will tie future wage increases for all employees to the performance of the city’s 1 percent income tax.

The vote was 9-0 with Councilman Jeff Wobser, R-at-large, absent.

Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said the new three-year contracts are probably the best ever negotiated for both the city and its employees.

Under the new contract, police and firefighters will receive a 2.36 percent raise, retroactive to Jan. 1. That’s the same raise that was given to the city’s non-union employees earlier this year.

This year’s raise is already slightly better than the last contract, which was negotiated at 2 percent over the past three years.

The most significant change in the new contracts is an agreement on how future raises will be calculated.

Schmelzer said this year’s raise is based on a three-year average of gains in the city’s income tax, based on a formula that calculates the actual growth in revenue over 2015, 2016 and 2017. Calculations will always be one year behind to allow the city to close out its books for the previous year in February.

Next year’s raise will be based on the tax’s performance in 2016, 2017 and 2018. With the city set to close the books on 2018 this month, the 2020 raise amount will be known soon, Schmelzer said. That gives the city enough time to budget for future raises each year.

Schmelzer said the agreement is about six years and a lot of discussion in the making.

The economic downturn of 2012, coupled with the city’s poor financial position, led to both wage and staff cuts. The unions agreed to zero wage increases in the three-year contract for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Schmelzer said pay raises should be tied to the city’s financial performance, which ensures they will not outpace revenue. The formula, however, will also reward employees when the city is financially able to do so, he said. He said the new agreement is much closer to how businesses must operate.

The Findlay Police Department has 65 employees, 11 dispatchers and one parking officer.

The Findlay Fire Department has 66 employees.

Courier reporter Denise Grant will have more on Wednesday.

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