City Council holds off on approving new police contract
The city council of Grove City delayed action on a contract with the police union after the agreement originally was scheduled to be voted on as emergency legislation.
On Monday, Jan. 7, council held its first reading of an ordinance to authorize the mayor and city administrator to enter into a contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9, the union that represents the officers of the Grove City Police Division.
The proposed contract would retroactively begin Jan.1, 2013, and last through Dec. 31, 2015. Its terms include wage increases of 2.75 percent in each of the three years of the contract for officers. Other changes from the previous contract include the extension of the probationary step in the pay plan from nine months to one year, widening the range between starting pay and top pay rates, and increasing compensatory time accrual from 45 hours to 81 but limiting it to a calendar year rather than at any one time.
City Legal Director Stephen Smith said these changes are intended to reduce the city's long-term overtime costs.
Over the next three years, the new contract is projected to cost around $1 million more than the previous contract.
"This contract was negotiated fairly easily and fairly quickly," Smith said.
However, Smith said there was a problem with the insurance portion of the contract. Smith said the city previously offered two types of insurance plans: a traditional plan and a high-deductible plan. This year, the city's insurance provider did away with the traditional plan, placing the employees on a high-deductible plan. Normally, an existing contract remains in effect while a new one is negotiated, but now a part of the old contract is not offered anymore.
Smith said the city's negotiators had reached a memorandum of understanding with the FOP so the proposed contract would pass on Monday as emergency legislation.
If passed as emergency, the legislation would go into effect immediately instead of after a 30-day waiting period, the time period residents normally have to file a referendum against typical council legislation.
The union is reported to have already approved the new contract by a vote of 33-13, said Bill Vedra, deputy city administrator.
In postponing action, council members said they were concerned about voting on the contract before the public had a chance to weigh in.
"This is a contract of some significance," said Councilman Jeff Davis. "We got this Wednesday and are expected to vote on it as an emergency Monday. That's not nearly enough time to get some citizen (or) community feedback."
The contract is scheduled for a second reading and vote at council's next meeting Jan. 22.
In other business, council also approved emergency legislation to issue $5.8 million worth of bonds to pay for the costs of improving and expanding North Meadows Drive from its current intersection at state Route 665 to the intersection of Hoover and Holton road. The improvements are to support Mount Carmel Health System's new emergency care center and medical offices, currently under construction at 5525 Hoover Road.
Per an agreement with Mount Carmel, the city is required to complete the improvements by Oct. 31 of this year, said city Administrator Chuck Boso.
"That's the reason for the emergency legislation," Boso said.
Council also authorized Boso to enter into a lease agreement with South-Western City Schools for the Kingston School building, 3226 Kingston Ave., to use for parks and recreation programming. The school district is allowing the city to use the facility rent-free provided the city pay for improvements to the building.
The lease period is three years. The school board is expected to vote on the agreement at its next meeting.