CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that the three-year contract totaled $58 million. The contract will total $26.9 million, according to City officials. The headline has been updated.

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno police officers will be the highest-paid officers in the Central Valley effective on Monday.

Their new contract has a price tag of $26.9 million over three years, and it maxed out this year’s city budget, according to Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.

“Fresno police officers will be the highest-paid police officers in the valley,” said Dyer.

“I think the city of Fresno really put their money where their mouth is and they made public safety a top priority,” said Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama.

As of January 21, 2022, the Fresno Police Department has 76 vacancies, nearly 10% of the total positions.

“It is a very competitive market and we aren’t getting the pool of applicants that we have in the past,” said Balderrama. “I believe that this is going to help us hire more officers.”

The new contract will give a 3% increase annually for all positions for three years. It will also raise the starting pay for a first-year recruit by nearly $10,000 – and increase it all the way to the top positions.

“Where a top step officer would be today versus where they would be at the end of this contract, that top step will be close to $21,000 extra per year,” said Dyer.

The other major change in the contract is the flexibility of schedules, which allows officers to ask for a change in their schedule at any time instead of only once a year.

But even with the new perks, the chief doesn’t expect the positions to be filled right away. Only 40 recruits can go through the academy at one time, which takes 25 weeks. Then there are another 4-5 months of training.

“We have to train hard, and we can’t lower our standards,” said Balderrama. “That is one thing I have said since the beginning is that I will not lower my standards because it is too risky to do that.”