Council to consider FOP contractPublished 12:00am Sunday, June 17, 2012
Ironton City Council President Mike Lutz has called a special meeting of both the finance committee and the full city council Wednesday to consider a contract with the Fraternal Order of Police and to give second and possibly third reading to an agreement with the public works union.
The finance committee meeting is at 5:30 p.m. and the full council meeting at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, city leaders said the recently enacted changes in the budget are beginning to have a positive effect on the bottom line.
Lutz said a tentative agreement between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police Local 75 will keep the status quo — that is, the officers will not begin paying a portion of their retirement pickup and the department will instead meet its seven-and-a-half percent council-mandated budget cut by not bringing back recently laid off employees.
This is the same decision made by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 771, the union that represents the street, sanitation and other public works departments.
The AFSCME union lost six public works employees earlier this year. The police department roster was cut by three earlier this year. Patrolmen Jamie Pruitt and Chad Artrip were laid off; a third officer, Grover Carter, a veteran of the department and a retired state trooper, voluntarily left.
In spite of the staffing cuts, Blankenship said, “We’re still out there and doing the best we can do.”
One bright spot
Finance Director Kristen Martin told city council Thursday that a $131,000 negative balance at the end of 2011 has been eradicated due to the $6 per month increase in the municipal fee, the repeal of the city’s income tax reciprocity agreement and the decision to require non-union employees to begin paying seven-and-a-half percent of their retirement pickup.
Martin said the general fund balance at the end of May was $175,000.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Martin said.
As of May 31, the reciprocity repeal has resulted in a $40,000 increase in the city’s income tax collection; revenue from the municipal fee has amounted to a $63,000 increase in that area. The retirement pickup change has amounted to a $5,000 monthly savings even though it thus far only affects non-union employees.
Martin said revenues through May 31 were $2,320,000 and the expenses were $2,012,000, leaving an overage to date of $308,000.
Blankenship said the city’s financial picture is improving and recent changes have left the police department with a carryover.
“This may allow us to bring back one officer,” Blankenship said.
On the other hand
Martin had already warned council that state funding to local government is likely to be $55,000 less this year than last; she repeated that warning Thursday. The state is phasing out the inheritance tax that, by this time last year, had brought in $87,000.
By January 2013, the inheritance tax, still levied on only the largest estates, will be history.
“Are we going to get any inheritance taxes this year?” Council member Bob Cleary asked.
“I’ve budgeted zero,” Martin replied.