Westminster police officers will get a salary increase each year over the next three years, after the City Council approved a new three-year-agreement for sworn and civilian Police Department employees.

Police officers will get a 3 percent salary increase effective August 2017, followed by a 3.5 percent increase in 2018 and a 3 percent increase in 2019. The department is budgeted for 86 police officers, although only 75 of those positions are currently filled.

Civilian employees will get a $3,000 cash allowance this year, followed by a 3.5 percent salary increase in 2018 and again in 2019. There are 35 civilian positions in the department, 33 which are filled.

The salary increase comes after voters approved a one-cent sales tax increase in November that city officials say will generate up to $14 million in annual revenue. The tax increase ballot measure was advertised by proponents as a move to prevent a looming bankruptcy and maintain essential city services, including public safety.

The Westminster Police Officers Association spent at least $52,242 in 2016 in support of the sales tax increase, according to a Jan. 2017 campaign finance disclosure.

Human Resources director Mike Harary says Westminster police officers are the lowest paid in Orange County, based on a survey he conducted of the highest possible monthly base salary for police officers in agencies countywide. Officers are generally eligible for a higher salary based on their education, special assignments and skills, such as being able to speak a language other than English.

The highest monthly base salary for officers in Westminster is $6,947, compared to a median of $7,917 a month, according to Harary’s survey.

The highest paid police officers in his survey were from Costa Mesa ($9,101 a month), Irvine ($8,814), Seal Beach ($8,769), Anaheim ($8,313) and Cypress ($8,247).

Officers last received a raise in 2014, when they were given a six percent increase, although their pension contribution was also increased by six percent.

Harary said the department has lost eight police officers to other departments over the past two years: three police officers to Seal Beach, three to Irvine, one to Garden Grove and one to Anaheim.

City council members Sept. 13 approved the salary increases unanimously and without discussion.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

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