On Tuesday, negotiating teams from both the administration and the Westbrook Police Association met with representatives from the Maine State Retirement System as part of contract negotiations.

The contract dispute between the police union and the city has been going on for almost three years. The dispute centers on health care benefits and the police retirement system.

The union wants to shift from the city’s retirement system to the Maine State Retirement System, with officers eligible for retirement after 20 years.

The city has countered by saying the union’s proposal is too expensive, and moving to 20-year retirement for all police officers would eventually lead to higher costs for taxpayers.

Detective Sean Lally, president of the Westbrook Police Association, described the meeting at the Augusta offices of the Maine State Retirement System as an informational meeting. He said the two sides have been using different numbers regarding the cost of switching the police to the state retirement system, and Lally hoped both sides would be able to agree on the cost after the meeting.

“We’re not negotiating,” Lally said. “We’re just trying to get the hard numbers.”

Lally said the plans still call for both sides to present their cases at a fact-finding session scheduled for April 25. After hearing the case, the fact-finding board will issue a recommendation. If the two sides fail to reach a settlement based on that recommendation, the case would then move on to arbitration.

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