FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to approve a three-year union contract with police deputies that guarantees 24-hour coverage.

The modified pact has to go before members of the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Deputies have been working under a contract that expired June 30, 2017.

A study showed the deputies were underpaid compared to other law enforcement agencies, county Clerk Julie Magoon said after the meeting.

The new contract, if ratified by the union, will give deputies a $1 an hour raise each year of the agreement retroactive to July 1, 2017. It also gives deputies who are required to be on-call a stipend of $500 a year.

In return, union members made concessions on sick and vacation leave. Among the changes, sick time will go from a maximum personal time off accrual of about 1,200 hours to a maximum 480 hours. If an employee doesn’t use the time before they leave county employment, they will lose it.

Commissioners have been working to reduce the county’s unfunded liabilities connected to employees’ time off. Commission Chairman Charles Webster of Farmington said it was about $500,000.

An unfunded liability is any liability that does not have savings set aside for it.

The union had approved a tentative agreement prior to commissioners rejecting it Thursday morning in a 1-2 vote. Commissioner Terry Brann of Wilton, who helped negotiate the agreement, voted in favor while Commissioners Clyde Barker of Strong and Webster opposed.

Barker said he had concerns about 24-hour coverage. The majority of Barker’s District 3 is in northern Franklin County.

A two-hour executive session ensued with union representatives, a labor specialist with the Fraternal Order of Police, commissioners, county attorney and a labor mediator, and some modifications were made.

Commissioners took up the contract again and approved it by a 2-1 vote with Barker and Brann in favor and Webster opposed. Webster said he was not opposed to anything in it except that the agreement is retroactive to July 1.

Union labor specialist Mike Edes said the contract will be brought back to union members to take another vote on it.

“We are confident” they will approve it, he said.

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