Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

R’s reject union concessions; budget passage iffy?

A dizzying number of motions were voted on along party lines during last night's Special City Council meeting. Keith Moore, Joe Sanker, and John Mumper, the 3 Democratic council members, wanted the police and fire union contract ordinances moved on the agenda ahead of the budget ordinance so they could be approved before the budget vote. Their concern about the order of the votes centered around the fact that the union concessions are represented in the 2011 budget and should be approved in advance of the budget vote. Republicans Vic Schneider, Steve Thornbury, Donna Laake, and Michael Gabbard voted against changing the order.

Most of the Republican members stated they don’t want to commit the City to contracts as long as 2 years because of concern that revenues will continue to shrink. Michael Gabbard suggested shortening the term to 1 year; Donna Laake stated she would be satisfied with 6 months, which would give time for all 4 unions to offer concessions that would “share the pain.” She specifically suggests they consider a 5% pay reduction and giving up longevity pay. The clerical and public works unions are currently considering a 36-hour work week, but a decision isn’t expected for several weeks.

Without a vote passing the 2 union contracts prior to voting on the budget, Mr. Moore and Mr. Mumper indicated they would not vote in favor of a budget that contains unauthorized union concessions. The budget ordinance had its first reading at Friday night’s Special Council meeting but failed to get a 2nd reading with a party line vote of 4 to 3.** Council President Jane Grote stated a super majority of 5 is required to pass the budget.

What did pass last night were motions rejecting the fire and police contracts and instructing Mayor Williams to continue negotiating with the unions. He is expected to report any progress at another Special Council meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers. Tomorrow is the deadline for the budget to be approved.

There was much more to the meeting than we can recount here. We invite readers to fill in the many blanks and to correct us if we have made any factual errors.

**8:45 a.m. CORRECTION: We just received an email from a councilperson that states, “I'm pretty sure we did have a second reading of the appropriations ordinance.”