It's unanimous, the city of Dunkirk Police Benevo-lent Association members have a new contract. Com-mon Council approved the deal, covering the period from Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2015, at a special meeting Tuesday by a 5-0 vote.
The contract calls for 0 percent increases for 2012, 2013 or 2014. A 3 percent increase is scheduled for 2015. The contract also will have current PBA members paying some of the cost of their health insurance, including 5 percent of the city's costs in 2013; 7.5 percent in 2014 and 10 percent in 2015. New hires will start and remain at the 10 percent payment. In the last three years each officer will receive an additional $900 in insurance flexible spending, which they must designate in writing how it will be used.
Council spent some 12 minutes in executive session prior to discussing the upcoming vote, with Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala up first.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce reads from a prepared statement prior to Common Council voting to approve a new contract between the city and the Dunkirk Police Benevolent Association.
"First, I'd like to say that both sides have compromised and I believe that by moving forward in this direction it's a positive for the city of Dunkirk," Szukala stated. "Remembering that a contract negotiation requires give and take from both sides; the fact remains that officers will be paying into their health insurance costs, which is a huge plus for the city. Also, three years with 0 percent raises was negotiated, a 3 percent raise for the final year. Given the unknowns of a binding arbitration that the police are entitled to, this is, in my opinion, the best for everyone."
Second Ward Councilman William J. Rivera then congratulated Mayor Anthony J. Dolce for again, "making it look rather easy." Rivera cited the 2013 budget along with the contract as examples before congratulating the council.
"This kind of agreement with the police was on the to-do list for 2013," he said. "Again, I want to congratulate the council for just being able to scratch it off the list, one of the larger items, so easy for so early in 2013."
Rivera thanked the PBA for "really stepping up to the plate at a time, when in my opinion, the city really needed you. I really do believe they have done that," Rivera added before thanking Szot for his efforts.
He added he was ready to put up a big fight on the contract but "it was as late as 11 o'clock last night when I was looking for something to argue over, something to shed a tear over and I never found it. ... This is a great day for the city of Dunkirk, this contract is responsible on both parties. I'm very proud to be a part of this process and proud to approve this agreement."
Szukala then asked for a clarification of the longevity payments which had caused some concerns. Szot said he put the language two different ways.
"The bottom line though is that the 2012 additional longevity contribution from the city to members is $0, and in 2013, 14 and 15 it's $200," Szot said. The $200 will be added to the $850 per year that was a carryover from the prior agreement.
Third Ward Councilman Adelino Gonzalez thanked the PBA and said the members understood the condition of the city.
"I'm pretty sure that the city can be proud of the contract that's been worked out," he added.
Dolce then read from a prepared statement, saying he was extremely pleased "that the city has come to a mutually-beneficial resolution' with the PBA on the new contract.
"I want to thank Chief (David) Ortolano and the PBA's negotiating team and membership for their cooperation and hard work during the process, and for their positive support of this agreement. It was an extreme pleasure to work with them. I want to thank the common council for their support throughout the process," Dolce continued. "While each contract negotiation process is unique, I believe that this agreement properly and rationally balances the short- and long-term fiscal concerns of the city with the realistic financial outcome that could have been imposed upon the city if the binding arbitration process had been utilized.
"The city currently has two open agreements, with AFSCME Local 912 and Steelworkers Local 2693, and we certainly hope to be able to work cooperatively to bring those matters to a positive closure in the near future."
Kiyak then called for the vote and after it passed, council voted to adjourn 23 minutes after the meeting began.
After the meeting, Kiyak was asked for her thoughts on the deal.
"I thought that when it was explained to us by the mayor and city attorney and the chief of police, it seemed like there was give and take on both sides as all contracts will have. But in the end it seemed like it was a contract we could all live with and that will ultimately be manageable for the residents of Dunkirk," she replied. "That's the goal of the way the contracts are approved. They're negotiated and they're approved by the council. We all have the opportunity to ask all the questions that we need before approving it. It was a unanimous decision to approve it by the council members, so I felt comfortable."
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