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Akron Council approves union agreements

11/29/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Employees receive 2 percent raises next year

DOWNTOWN AKRON — For the first time in their memories, Akron City Council members were able to approve contracts with all of the city’s unions with a single vote Nov. 26.

City Council unanimously approved an agreement with the Civil Service Personnel Association; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1360 and AFSCME Council 8; the International Association of Firefighters Local 330; and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 — as well as nonbargaining, management and unclassified personnel. Council member James Hurley (D-Ward 1) was excused absent from the meeting.

The agreement, which has already been ratified by the union memberships, provides for a 2 percent raise for 2013 and a 1 percent raise, with the potential for an additional 1 percent or 2 percent lump sum bonus, for 2014 and 2015.

Finance Director Diane Miller-Dawson said the raises will take effect Dec. 30 for 2013.

The city also established for the first time training wages of $15 for newly hired police and fire personnel — a move that was applauded by several Council members.

“We are not alone,” Miller-Dawson said. “A lot of the municipalities in Ohio pay a training wage.”

Miller-Dawson said she believes this is the first time in the city’s history that all four unions and the city were able to sit down together and reach an agreement.

At the Council meeting, the agreement was lauded by FOP President Paul Hlynsky — speaking on behalf of the presidents of all four unions — as “a win-win for the city and for labor.”

“This is a good deal; it’s a common-sense deal,” he said. “We’re very, very grateful to the mayor and to all of you.”

The ordinance awards the same 2 percent raise to Council members, which Miller-Dawson pointed out is standard. She assured Council members the raise is true to the spirit of a charter amendment newly enacted by voters in this month’s General Election, which in part states that Council members’ raises must be in line with wage increases awarded in the private sector.

Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10), however, noted that Council has the power to reject the raises with a future ordinance, as it did in 2009. He indicated that there was consensus among several Council members that they might want to give back the raise.

In other business, Council approved a resolution opposing House Bill 601, which would, according to the ordinance, enact uniformity measures for municipal income tax that would “result in unfunded mandates and a substantial loss of revenue.”

If the bill were to be passed, “We [would] no longer have a say in how we collect income taxes in the city of Akron,” Miller-Dawson said. “We [would] lose local control of our largest source of revenue.”

Moneypenny said the bill, if it becomes law, could reduce the amount of income tax collected in the city and affect programs such as the city’s amnesty program for delinquent taxpayers.

Also at the meeting, Council heard from West Akron resident Richard Batal, who asked that Council move for the removal of barricades on Pershing Avenue and White Pond Drive. He said traffic “is becoming unbearable” and that he, as a taxpayer, has a right to use the roads.

Council President Marco Sommerville (D-Ward 3) asked that he speak to Ward 8 Council representative Marilyn Keith following the meeting.

The next Akron City Council meeting will take place Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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