DUNKIRK: No perfection in a contract

Contracts in the public sector are far from perfect when viewed by the common taxpayer. When compared to their counterparts in the private sector, those who work for municipalities, schools, the state and county, have it pretty good.

Consider this: the median income per household in Chautauqua County is right around $44,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Workers in the public sector regularly earn more than double that amount when considering total compensation in salary and benefits. So last week, during Dunkirk’s Common Council, there were some sacrifices made by the city’s Police Benevolent Association when reaching agreement on its contract.

From 2016 to 2018, there will be no pay increases, according to city Mayor Willie Rosas. In 2019, a 2 percent increase was approved. Minimum staffing also was decreased from 33 to 32.

“I really think it’s a good contract for both the city and the police department,” Rosas said. “This contract will provide the city police officers with an opportunity to retire at a more appropriate age and it gives the city the opportunity to bring in younger, energetic officers who come in at a lower pay rate.”

Like every other municipality in the county, Dunkirk faces some unique circumstances. One of its largest issues revolves around the future of the NRG Energy Inc. plant. Right now, the city and county are waiting for the repowering from coal to natural gas to happen so the plant can be on the grid again.

While that happens, however, the state has come through with transition aid, which will help the city and schools.

The approved police contract in the city is not perfect, but it is a sign of good will.