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City and patrol officers reach two-year agreement

Phil miller of Lighting matters Inc., holds an LED streetlight of the type the Hudson City Council is thinking about purchasing. Paul Morning, right, is a consultant with Graybar, the company hired to design energy-saving streetlight improvements. Photo by Randy Hanson for Hudson Star-Observer).

The Hudson City Council on Monday night approved a labor contract with the Hudson Police Patrol Officers union that will give the officers three pay increases over the next two years.

The patrol officers will receive a 1-percent raise effective Jan. 1, 2015, another 1-percent increase on July 1, 2015, and a 2-percent boost on Jan. 1, 2016.

Mayor Alan Burchill reported that he and Council President Randy Morrissette II, chair of the Public Safety Committee, and the city’s labor attorney, Stephen Weld, negotiated the contract with the union.

Burchill said that other than the wage increases, there was little change from the previous contract.

The city will continue to pay 90 percent of the officers’ health insurance premiums and at least part of officers’ share of contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System. The amount depends on when the officers were hired. Those hired after July 1, 2011, receive a smaller contribution.

The new contract also provides for certified field training officers to be paid an additional $1 per hour during the time he or she is training a new officer.

A starting patrol officer will now be paid $22.33 per hour. Officers receive step increases after six months and one, two, three, four and five years on the job. The current top rate is $29.41 per hour.

On Jan. 1, 2016, the starting rate will increase to $24.03 per hour, and the top rate to $30.29 per hour.

“I thought it went pretty quick this time,” Morrissette said of the negotiations.

City Administrator Devin Willi said supervisors received 4 percent salary increases for 2015.

LED streetlights

The council got an update on the designing of LED streetlight improvements from Paul Morning of Graybar, a major supplier of electrical products and services.

The city contracted with Graybar last summer to come up with a plan for lighting improvements. The planning is costing the city $17,300, plus contingencies.

Morning has been working with Phil Miller, a lighting engineer from Lighting Matters Inc., Minneapolis. Miller also attended Monday night’s meeting.

Miller provided the council members with preliminary cost estimates for replacing the city’s sodium-vapor lights with LED lights, as well as the annual estimated energy savings from doing so.

The total cost of replacing the city’s roadway lights (including labor) is estimated at $222,837. The estimate for installing LED lights on the city’s parking lots is $40,167. A wireless system for dimming or turning off the lights during periods of low traffic is estimated to cost another $86,350.

It’s estimated that the city would save $54,533 a year on its power bills by installing the LED lights and the control system. At that rate, it would take 4.6 years recoup the cost of the system.

Alderperson Rich Vanselow questioned the economic benefit of the control system.

According to the figures provided by Miller, the $86,350 system would provide annual energy savings of about $11,151. The payback for the LED lights would be 4.1 years without the control system.

Mayor Burchill indicated that he supports proceeding with the project. He said it will save the city money over the long term.

Burchill also asked Public Works Director Tom Zeuli about the number of streetlights in the city owned by Xcel Energy.

Zueli said the city has 340 streetlights. He didn’t know how many Xcel Energy owns.

Burchill hinted that the city might save money by replacing the Xcel Energy lights with its own lights.

Other action In other business Monday night, the council:

—Heard Mayor Burchill announce that he was appointing Tricia Christiansen, owner of Christiansen Creative, to the Police and Fire Commission. Christiansen will serve out of the term of Peter Post, who died last September.

—Heard the mayor proclaim Jan. 15 to be Big Brothers Big Sisters Thank You Mentor Day in the city.

—Approved a contract with the Animal Humane Society of Woodbury, Minn., for animal shelter services in 2015.

—Approved the renewal of a secondhand jewelry dealer license for J.R. Haubrich Jewelry, 210 Locust St.

—Approved the appointment of Todd Brabec and Mary Kirchhoff as election inspectors, as recommended by the Republican Party.

—Approved the purchase of a new copier for the city’s administrative offices at a cost not to exceed $11,000.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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