Errors delay OK of police contract

GLOVERSVILLE – After a nearly one-hour executive session, the Common Council on Tuesday decided to table a resolution establishing a new contract with the union representing the Police Department.

After the meeting, Mayor Dayton King said errors in the document led to the contract with the Police Benevolent Association being tabled.

“We just need to make mostly administrative corrections,” the mayor said. “The PBA ratified their end of it and the council members saw a couple of typos in the contract, and I believe next month we will get together to ratify and pass this. I don’t think there were any problems with what was in there.”

He said it’s possible the contract could be approved at the next meeting this month but he believes it will be approved at the first meeting in March “at the latest.”

The previous contract between the city and the union expired Dec. 31, 2010.

The tabled agreement covers the period from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2013, according to the resolution before the council.

New York state’s Taylor Law and its Triborough Amendment mandate all provisions of a public-employee union contract remain in place, even after the contract expires, until a new deal is agreed to by both sides.

King declined to speak about any of the specific terms of the new contract, but did speak about some of the benefits it would have to the city’s finances.

“There are some provisions in there that will allow the city to see some savings,” King said. “Health insurance may be one of those items and we took a look [at] changing some things for new hires.”

“The city pays the overwhelming majority of healthcare premiums and what we are looking to do is get more buy-in from the unions,” King said. “I think we can be successful in that and at the same time if we can switch to a cheaper plan, it’s really not going to cost them money either.”

The PBA represents all members of the police department except for Police Chief Donald VanDeusen.

VanDeusen has declined to comment on the pending deal between the city and PBA until it has been agreed upon by both parties.

King said city and union representatives sat down for the contract negotiations without their attorneys “to have some frank conversations.”

Once an agreement was made, the attorneys then looked over the contract to make sure it was OK, he said.

The city also has negotiations with the Gloversville Firefighters Association and the CSEA to address in the future.

Around this time last year, the council approved the terms of an agreement with the Teamsters Local 294. King said the contract included a 2-percent raise, effective when the new health insurance plan took effect. That contract is now expired.

King said approving contracts that cover the years since a deal expired – but do not cover future years – may be the best solution for the city going forward.

King said when negotiations take place, longer contracts often require more money to be spent because of the extended period those contracts cover, which is why the city was seeking a deal that covered prior years rather than future years.

“I didn’t want to get into a contract that was going to spend any more money than we had to,” King said. “I want to be conservative as possible and I know the police officers and all city employees do a great job, but we also have to spend within our means.”