The Liberty Township firefighters' union has filed a grievance with the township trustees.

The Liberty Township firefighters' union has filed a grievance with the township trustees.

The union said the township trustees changed the employee contribution for health insurance premiums before concluding contract negotiations with the union.

The township and the union have been negotiating since October 2009.

The expired contract that the firefighters are still working under calls for monthly health insurance contributions of $15 for single coverage and $25 for all coverage greater than single.

In March, trustees passed a resolution, effective April 1, to change the monthly employee contribution to $25 for single health coverage, $35 for employee plus one dependent, and $45 for employee plus two or more dependents.

Trustees said at the time that they needed to make the changes prior to the April 1 renewal date for the health insurance.

Firefighter-paramedic and local union president Brian Niemet on April 19 presented the grievance to trustees on behalf of the union.

The trustees have 14 days from that date to respond in writing.

Township administrator Dave Anderson said neither he nor the trustees will comment on the grievance. He said, however, that because the grievance was made in a public session, the trustees' response also will be made in public session.

Anderson said the township would not comment on the contract negotiations.

However, fire chief Tim Jensen told ThisWeek the negotiations are covering three monetary issues, but he would not elaborate.

Jensen and Anderson confirmed the two sides have asked the State Employee Relations Board of Ohio to get involved in the negotiations should an impasse occur.

The change in insurance premium contributions was one of fiscal officer Mark Gerber's recommendations to help trim township expenses, Gerber said.

In January, Gerber told trustees the township was spending in excess of revenue.

He made several recommendations, including requiring employees to pay more for health insurance and to contribute to their pension funds.

The state requires government employee and employers to contribute to public pension systems. An employee is to pay 10 percent of his or her gross pay into the retirement system. An employer is to pay 14 percent of that employee's gross pay into the system.

In 1995, the township began paying for 2 percent of each employee's 10 percent. The township expanded that policy until its current benefit of paying all 10 percent of the employee's contribution.

Gerber wants employees to pay 6 percent of the 10 percent.

The township recently hired a zoning assistant and a fiscal officer assistant; neither will receive a 100-percent retirement payment by the township.