Walled Lake Police Chief Paul Shakinas is no longer a union employee.
After months of negotiations, Shakinas and the city settled on terms of an “at-will” contract, meaning that although there is no expiration date, Shakinas’ employment could be terminated at any time upon the discretion of the city manager in accordance with the City Charter.
“He’s at-will, just like I am,” said City Manager L. Dennis Whitt. “It’s a permanent position so he has job security there, but he’s part of management and that’s a non-union position. Early on, he didn’t want to forego the protection of the union but eventually he made the call,” he said.
The contract officially began March 15 when Shakinas was promoted to chief.
“I could have gone outside the department, but took in all the positive comments from the legislative body,” Whitt said of selecting a new police chief. “He has shown he could be a good chief by the way he has responded. He has what it takes.”
Shakinas made concessions on longevity pay, as well as giving up two holidays. Due to his 10-year tenure with the city, Shakinas would have been eligible for 4 percent longevity pay.
“Taking away longevity pay was an adamant provision the majority of council had in cutting back on these benefits,” Whitt said.
“Longevity and benefits are a concern for all public employees and may be brought up with the officers, too,” Shakinas said.
The officers’ contract expired June 30 and is currently being negotiated.
Aside from the contract concessions, Shakinas will now be reimbursed 100 percent instead of 50 percent for tuition costs.
“I mandated that he finish his master’s degree by early next year and he’s well on his way in doing so,” Whitt said. “The tuition benefit is about equivalent to the longevity pay the first year, but it will turn into a savings for the city in the future.”
As a matter of policy, Shakinas is entitled to use of a police vehicle while on and off the clock.
“There’s a benefit to that — he gets to drive a patrol vehicle at all times, but he’s always on-call,” Whitt said.
Shakinas will continue to earn a base annual salary of $78,033; however, Whitt added that is no reflection on Shakinas’ work ethic.
“He’s a leader of the troops and he’s done a great job for the city and the department,” Whitt said. “Due to our finances, we have to hold the line for now.”
Overall, Shakinas said the contract was fair despite concessions made by both sides.
“I’m very grateful for a guy my age to have this opportunity,” Shakinas said.