Town sweetens deal for police

Selectboard, officers agree on 3.5-year contract

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard and police officers union have agreed on an employment contract through June, 2025 that sweetens the compensation package for officers at a time when the department is struggling to fill out its ranks.

The contract comes with an across-the-board pay increase of 4.5 percent for all officers starting Jan. 1. Another raise of 3.5 percent is set for July 1, with annual cost-of-living increases each July after that, fluctuating based on inflation using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. 

The starting officer wage will increase to $24.75 per hour in the new contract, up from $23.68. Officers will receive additional pay increases between 2-3 percent at certain longevity milestones.

The selectboard approved the contract Dec. 7 after a series of closed-door negotiations with officer union representatives. The contract replaces an 18-month deal officers had been working under since the summer of 2020. 

“There is a focus on recruiting and retention of staff,” Town Manager Erik Wells said of the contract. “We are looking to stay competitive and keep up the strong police department that we have.”

The contract also increases the town’s contribution to officers’ health insurance costs, with the town covering 88 percent of health insurance premiums and 84 percent of deductibles. 

The police department is currently looking to fill three vacant officer positions. Its most recent hire, Officer Sabrina Boutin, came on board in November after having worked for three years at the Shelburne Police Department. She also previously worked as an officer in Barre.

“She’s very qualified,” said Lt. Josh Moore. “She’s been a great addition.”

Boutin replaced Sarah Bell, who left the department in November. Bell worked for the Williston Police for three years. When she was hired, she was the department’s only female officer. With Boutin coming on, the department now has two females on the force, including Avery Lemnah, who was hired in 2020.