Police Labor Contract Approved by Union, City of Lake Wales,
Last updated 9/14/2023 at 11:59am
An agreement approving a new three-year contract between the City of Lake Wales and city police patrol officers and sergeants was ratified by local members of the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association in a unanimous vote Wednesday night, after being previously approved on the city commission's consent agenda.
The new contract will run through 2026. Police officers and sergeants will receive a six percent cost-of-living allowance (COLA) on October 1. Two further COLAs are included in the contract, including a four percent increase on April 1, 2024, and another five percent COLA on October 1, 2024.
During a workshop meeting City Manager James Slaton told city commissioners who approved the deal that the environment for recruiting and retaining police officers has become "very competitive" due to higher demand and a shrinking pool of candidates. "Cities are fighting for the same candidate pool," he said, adding that the new contract will leave Lake Wales "tied for third" among Polk cities, behind Lakeland and Winter Haven.
City Human Resources Director Sandra Davis told commissioners that the cost of the increases would be an additional $185,000 starting in October, followed by steps of $54,300 in April, and another $149,000 starting the in the 2024-25 fiscal year.
"The PBA worked extremely hard and is so very proud to announce this contract extension that will be an immediate and impactful financial benefit for those who put it on the line, each and every day," said Nick Marolda, president of the West Central Florida P.B.A. Marolda is a narcotics detective with the City of Lakeland police department.
The police officers "stand in the gap between good and evil for the citizens of Lake Wales," Marolda added.