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City Council approves agreement with police

            On Dec. 6, City Council unanimously approved a new two-year contract with the the police patrolman’s union. The contract contains provisions similar to new agreements with other employee unions this year.

            “It’s just about the same as the other contracts this year,” Law Director Gary Ebert, one of the administration’s negotiators, said. “There hasn’t been a lot of deviation in the different agreements.”

            Union officials could not be reached for comment.

            In the agreement, the union stipulates to not getting a raise in 2010 and receiving a 1 percent raise for 2011. The employees will pick up additional portions of their health care costs as a result of the pact. The single and family co-pay deductibles will increase, while union members will also pick up additional portions of their prescription costs by about $5 as a result of the new pact. Similar provisions were put in place for other new contracts with municipal employee unions during the year.

            During the council meeting, Finance Director Steve Presley was asked if the city would have to make any major payments for  back wages or other retoractive payments because of the the 2010 portion of the agreement. He said there would be no major back payment issues because there was no pay raise for 2010. He said there was a slight holiday pay adjustment of about $5,000. The overall city budget for 2010 is about $11.7 million, he noted later. He said current estimates for the 2011 budget project about the same amount.

            Later, Presley said the agreement was good for the city.

            “We appreciate the fact that our employees are aware of the current economic conditions and have worked closely with us on reaching as fair an agreement as possible,” he said.

            Overall, Presley said the city saved about $78,000 annually with the employees picking up more of their health costs.

            Mayor Debbie Sutherland also was pleased by the agreement.

            “We’ve always had a good relationship with the police officers and have been able to work with them,” she said.

            It is the last agreement reached with city employees. Sutherland said it would have been reached even sooner except for the fact that the officers changed representation and had to wait to vote on the process.

            “Noting the current economic circumstances we’ve all had to deal with, I think we were as fair as possible as we could be with everybody throughout the process of reaching the different contract agreements,” she said. “They all were pretty similar in how they were put together and what the contracts contained for employees.”



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