By Jeff Gallatin
North Olmsted city police unions have approved a fact-finding report that likely will lead to a new contract between the city and police officials.
With the unions representing the patrol officers, correctional officers and supervisors approving the report during weekend votes, the contract must go to North Olmsted City Council for potential action. A special meeting of the full council was scheduled for last night to discuss the contract in executive session.
City Law Director Michael Gareau Jr. said the report could not be released, saying it was still preliminary in nature. Union officials also declined to discuss the report or contract specifics, noting no formal agreement had been signed yet.
Officials from both the city administration and unions said the agreement was satisfactory given the current state of the economy.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s fair,” said Capt. Mike Kilbane, who represents the police supervisors.
“The officers are satisfied that it’s fair,” Bill Saringer, who represents the patrol officers, said.
“Contract negotiations are never easy,” Safety/Service Director Scott Thomas said. “If you look around the state, it’s still a pretty tough economic climate, and I think all the parties involved realize that. So, I’d say the agreement is fair to all.”
Officials from both sides said they hope to continue to work on upgrading the police department.
“There are still ongoing concerns about the manpower levels on the department,” Saringer said. “That’s an ongoing dialogue with the city.”
Thomas also touched on the manpower issue, noting the city and North Olmsted City Schools have reached a tentative agreement in which the schools will pay the majority of police school resource officer Jim Carbone’s salary, with a grant picking up the remainder. Thomas said this will free up enough funds to allow the department to hire another patrol officer. Mayor Kevin Kennedy has said it’s a good example of cooperation between the city and schools and getting the most out of tight budgets.
Kilbane and Saringer both lauded the pending deal for the school resource officer, citing Carbone’s strong relationships with students and the community as a whole.
“Jim has a fantastic relationship with the schools,” Kilbane said. “It’s been beneficial for both the schools and the police department.”
The fact-finding session was held in June after the city and unions were unable to reach agreement on a new contract. The last three-year agreement expired at the end of 2011. That agreement contained concessions ranging from 10 to 15 percent depending upon the officer’s rank, seniority and other criteria. City officials had sought the concessions to help combat the effects of the several-year Great Recession. Both sides had acknowledged that North Olmsted officers pay scales were lowest in the Westshore, with union officials indicating they did not want additional major concessions in a new agreement.