Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, April 15, 2011

2011 Budget passes, shorter police and fire contracts presented

Last night, City Council voted to add newly amended police and fire union contracts to their agenda as the first items to be considered before tackling the 2011 budget and an ordinance to allow Fund 28 to be used to pay utility bills. The previous 2 union contracts, which were to run through 12/31/13 and would save the City $1 million this year alone, were rejected by the Republican majority of 4 on Tuesday night. Steve Thornbury and Donna Laake, in particular, have voiced objections to obligating the City to the 2 ½ year extension because of declining revenues. The new contracts were shortened by 1 year to run through 12/31/12.

During the discussion that followed, Mayor Williams told council that in addition to the shortened term, both contracts contained “no reopener” clauses because both unions want protection from reopened negotiations being used against them in the future. He said both unions stipulated that the contracts must be passed at that very meeting. Mr. Thornbury asked the mayor if the clause would preclude the possibility of more negotiations if the City’s financial condition worsened. Mayor Williams replied that he believed the unions would continue negotiating if needed because they don’t want to destroy their employer, the City.

Mr. Gabbard thanked the bargaining units for their new offers and said he was pleased. Last week, he had asked for a shorter term of 1 year. Adding that he trusted the unions would come back and talk, he announced that he would vote for the contracts.

Donna Laake stated that she did not believe the City could afford the amended contracts this year because she didn’t see any pot of money on the horizon to pay for them. Mr. Mumper said he did not understand that kind of thinking since both contracts together would save $1 million this year, meaning, of course, that if council doesn’t approve them, the unions’ current contracts would be in force without the savings.

After rejecting Mr. Sanker’s motions for 3rd and then 2nd readings of the new contracts, council voted for the 1st reading, with Mr. Thornbury and Mr. Gabbard voting with the 3 Democratic members.

Next, a motion for the 3rd reading of the 2011 budget ordinance passed. During that discussion, Ms. Laake stated she would be voting for the ordinance so that City employees could be paid. Mr. Mumper said he could not understand how anyone could support passing the budget containing the $1 million police and fire concessions without passing those very contracts first. A motion to pass the budget passed 5 to 2 with Mr. Moore voting with the 4 Republicans.

A motion for the 3rd reading of the ordinance to use Fund 28 to pay utility bills passed, but Mr. Schneider’s motion to pass the ordinance failed 4 to 3 because the emergency clause it contained required a supermajority vote of 5. Ms. Laake asked that the ordinance be reintroduced without the emergency clause at tonight’s Special Council meeting.

Click here for Channel 19's coverage of last night's meeting.