Police & Firefighters Deal, Will Council?
Annapolis Mayor Joshua Cohen has announced tentative agreements from the police and fire unions which should help to ease the deficit for the City. In total, the deals (if ratified by the Council) will save the City an approximate $1.2 million dollars in the upcoming year. However, with the deficit seemingly increasing with each passing week, it remains to be seen what impact these concessions will truly have.
From a press release from Annapolis City Hall:
Mayor Joshua J. Cohen announces that the City has struck tentative agreements on two-year contracts with the unions representing the City’s police officers and firefighters. The agreements eliminate cost-of-living increases and call for furloughs and other concessions.
The City firefighters, represented by the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1926, agreed to nine furlough days for FY 2011, producing a $306,000 savings for the City. Police officers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 400, agreed to five furlough days for FY 2011, a savings of $160,000.
Under both agreements, union employees and retirees will pay a greater percentage of health care costs. Police officers and firefighters will pay 20 percent of the premiums, an increase of 5 percent. The contribution for retirees will also increase by 5 percent, to 30 percent.
The City currently picks up 85 percent of health care premiums for employees. Applying the 80/20 split for all City employees would result in $386,000 in savings a year. A 70/30 split for all City retirees would net $96,000 a year.
The City and the unions also agreed to a no cost-of-living increase for FY 2011, which begins July 1. In FY 2010, firefighters and police officers received a 2 percent COLA, or a combined payout of $324,000.
Each union and the City may reopen negotiations for health care and wages for the second year of the contract. Under the terms of the contracts, employees would still be eligible to earn longevity and step increases.
The agreements were approved by the unions’ members this week. The City Council must ratify the contracts, and council members are scheduled to meet in closed session on Monday, May 10 to discuss union negotiations.
“These agreements are a step toward easing our unprecedented budget crisis,” Mayor Cohen said. “The City Council must determine if this is a significant enough step, considering that we face the prospect of more layoffs and other cuts to close the deficit. I thank the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1926, United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 400, and our City negotiating team for reaching these tentative agreements during this very challenging time.”