Waldo County Commissioners and Waldo County Deputies Association have inked a three-year contract that gives 3-percent per year raises and a $250 signing bonus to the Deputies Association’s 14 members, while requiring them to pay a larger portion of their health insurance premiums.

The Deputies Association is one of three bargaining units within county government. Commissioners previously signed a contract with workers from the Regional Communications Center and are currently in negotiations with the union representing support staff.

County Commissioner William Shorey said he is pleased with the outcome of the Deputies Association contract negotiations, which began under former Commissioner Donald Berry in November. Shorey took over in the lead role for the county when Berry was replaced in January by Betty Johnson.

“I’m not unhappy at all. I’m satisfied and I think they’re satisfied,” he said. “I think it’s fair and equitable.”

Detective Matt Curtis, who was part of the negotiating team for the Deputies Association, expressed a similar sentiment.

“I think it’s fair all the way around. We’re happy,” he said.

In addition to annual cost of living increases, the new contract requires deputies to pay a progressively larger share of health insurance premiums. Members previously contributed 10 percent. As part of the new contract, that figure went to 12 percent  for 2011 and will increase by 1.5 percent in each of the next two years.

Negotiations between county support staff represented by the Maine State Employees Association, including secretaries, clerks and court workers, is “on the way” to mediation according to Shorey, who said he believes papers have been filed to start that process.

Shorey said the previous contract with MSEA members, signed in 2008 after two years of negotiations, also went to mediation. That contract won support staff workers reclassification of their positions and a $500 payment in lieu of a 3-percent raise for the previous year when negotiations were ongoing.

Several support staff workers have privately expressed frustration during stages of the current negotiation process with regard to the treatment they have received from the county — including concerns the county would be willing to incur the expense of additional legal fees associated with mediation rather than settle on what they see as a reasonable set of requests.

Shorey would not comment further on the status of negotiations with the support staff union, but confirmed mediation would be expensive.

“It’s not a cheap process,” he said.