A state arbitrator has awarded the St. Paul Police Federation, which represents more than 600 officers and civilian police personnel, a 6.25 percent pay increase over the life of a three-year contract.

Despite the wage bump, which is retroactive to 2013 and was slightly better than what the City of St. Paul offered, union officials believe the department will remain among the lower-paid police departments in the Twin Cities.

The federation and the city had been at odds over pay since last year, which led to arbitration. The union said late last year that the department ranked 22nd out of 27 metro police departments in average annual salary based on 30-year career comparisons. That standing put it at a competitive disadvantage to hire and retain officers, the union said.

The city, meanwhile, argued that the union's numbers were flawed and that the department was, in fact, in the top five metro jurisdictions when total compensation, including benefits, was taken into account.

In a decision made available Wednesday, Arbitrator Jay C. Fogelberg said he discounted both the union and the city's compensation models in deciding the issue. The contract runs from 2013 to 2015.

The city had offered the union a 5.5 percent increase over the three years, which was equal to what was accepted by other unions in the city, including Firefighters Local 21.

Angela Nalezny, director of the city's office of human resources, said that she was disappointed in the amount of the 2015 increase, which calls for a 2.75 percent salary bump. The city is facing a budget deficit of $9.6 million next year.

"The award adds to that pressure," Nalezny said.

The police union wanted a 10.7 percent increase over three years. With the new salary adjustments, the department will rank 19th in the metro in terms of pay, union officials said.

"We're considering this a minor victory with a long way to go," Dave Titus, federation president, said.