Urbana City Council on Tuesday heard the first of three readings involving two ordinances pertaining to collective bargaining agreements between the city and its firefighters and fire captains.
Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said negotiations between the city and Urbana Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 1823, which represents the city’s firefighters and fire captains, began on Sept. 15 in hopes of new labor agreements being reached prior to the three-year contracts expiring on Nov. 15.
After holding seven negotiation sessions, Brugger said, negotiations stalled and a State Employment Relations Board mediator was brought in on Oct. 27. After six hours of mediated negotiations, a tentative agreement was agreed upon and ratified by IAFF Local 1823 on Nov. 9.
“I think both sides came to the table every session ready to talk, and we stayed with it,” Brugger said. “I think it’s a fair, reasonable agreement.”
Pending council’s approval after three readings, the new three-year labor agreements, Brugger pointed out, include base wage increases of 1 percent, 1.25 percent and 1.25 percent in each year of the three-year deal.
The contract for city firefighters calls for a base hourly rate of $14.62 in year one ($43,713.80 annual salary), while the contract for fire captains calls for a base hourly rate of $21.48. In both instances, the base rate of pay increases are based on years of experience.
Other pertinent changes to the contracts, Brugger said, involve language allowing for an additional personal day for employees who do not use sick leave in a calendar year (January through December), an increase in the uniform allowance from $800 to $900 a year, and added language noting the city’s responsibility to provide turnout gear that meets specific fit and compliance criteria.
Mausoleum debt addressed
Council waived the three-readings rule and passed a resolution authorizing a $10,500 cash advance from the General Fund to the Mausoleum Trust Fund to pay on the debt owed on the Legacy Mausoleum built at Oak Dale Cemetery in 2006. The cash advance will be repaid to the General Fund, the resolution states.
Director of Finance Chris Boettcher informed council the resolution has been approved for several years due to mausoleum sales each year totaling less than the annual debt payments of roughly $47,000.
“Last year, we advanced $4,000 in order to make the payment. In 2013, we advanced $21,000,” she said. “To date (this year), we have had sales of $31,867 associated with the mausoleum. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to cover the debt payment.”
Brugger added that when the city built the Legacy Mausoleum in 2006, the Shepherd Mausoleum (built in 1994) had numerous crypts and niches available, which slowed down sales in the newer mausoleum.
“We are currently down to very little if any crypts in the old mausoleum and a few niches,” he said. “Now, if anybody wants to go into a mausoleum, they will have to go to the new one.
“I would imagine starting next year, we will see a lot more sales in that area since there is no room in the other one,” Brugger added.
Council passed on final reading an ordinance authorizing preliminary approval between the city and the Ohio Department of Transportation for repair work to the bridge over Dugan Run near the Depot Coffee House on Miami Street. Since the bridge is inspected and maintained by ODOT, the project will be funded entirely by the state.
“A recent (ODOT) inspection unveiled some issues, from what I understood, are scour issues around the abutments,” Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said. “ODOT has a project scheduled to come in and make repairs to prevent the bridge from deteriorating any further. It’s basically some maintenance that needs to be done.”
In other business:
•In response to the recent retirement of Police Sgt. John Purinton, who along with his daily police duties handled information technology (IT) services for the Urbana Police Division, council approved a purchase order in the amount of $5,220 to B&K Digital for IT support services to the UPD.
“We will more than likely be handling (IT services) through a contract now versus having it done by one of our police officers in-house,” Brugger said. “Our hope at this point is to utilize our police officers more on the street and get them out in the public.”
•Council authorized the purchase of AMKUS hydraulic rescue tools (“jaws of life”) in the amount of $60,500 from Western Ohio Rescue Supply Company. In September, the city received funding for rescue equipment through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant, which is covering 95 percent of the total cost. After funding, the city’s total cost for the “jaws of life” is $2,880.
“The problem with the version that we have now is some of the new steel in the vehicles it can’t cut through,” Council member Dwight Paul said. “This particular model will be able to cut through some of the new steel and metal that we now have in vehicles. If you are stuck inside a car, this is what you want to have.”
•Brugger reported leaf pickup will continue, with one final pass scheduled to begin on Nov. 30, and the city’s compost facility, 1261 Muzzy Road, will remain open through the end of November.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.