Ashland city workers who had 3.5 percent cost-of-living raises in their contracts will continue to get those this year, while many others whose contracts were up this year have agreed to go without.

Known as cost-of-living-adjustments, or COLAs, the raises are meant to help keep workers’ wages in line with the rising cost of goods and services.

However, many consumer price indices show the cost of living is actually flat or slightly down this year because of the recession.

City employees who aren’t represented by unions, including department heads and secretaries, had agreed before the spring budgeting process not to take a COLA.

If the city had given those workers a COLA raise of 3.5 percent, it would have cost the city $226,000, according to Ashland Finance Director Lee Tuneberg.

Work contracts for police officers and clerical and technical workers expired on June 30. Those workers recently agreed to new contracts that include no COLAs. They will also pay a $200 deductible for health care, up from $100, according to a city staff memo to the Ashland City Council.

The council ratified labor agreements between the city of Ashland and the unions representing those workers on Tuesday.

The city is still in negotiations with the union that represents firefighters, said Ashland Human Resources Director Tina Gray.

If firefighters join the police officers and clerical and technical workers in agreeing to go without COLAs, that would save the city $214,500, according to Tuneberg.

— Ashland Daily Tidings