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Fairlawn City Council OKs new deal with city’s police officers

4/10/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

During its April 7 meeting, Fairlawn City Council unanimously approved new three-year contracts with the city’s full-time police patrol officers and police sergeants.

Law Director Ed Riegler said the deals, which go into effect retroactive to Jan. 1, were reached after the bargaining units met “four or five times.”

“They took it back to their membership about a week and a half ago, and this past week we got word that they were in agreement,” he said.

Riegler noted the deals “parallel” the agreement the city previously reached with fire department personnel.

“It includes wage increases for the years 2014 and 2015 of 2 percent each year, and in 2016 there is a wage re-opener,” he said. “We also agreed that health insurance would remain the same for 2014 and 2015, and then there would be a re-opener in 2016 regarding the health insurance article.”

According to the law director, the new deal also adds police personnel to a program already in existence for other city employees.

“About eight years ago, we enacted a sick leave bonus program for individuals who did not take time off because of sick leave,” he said. “They would receive a benefit for not taking time off. At that time, the police did not participate in the bonus program, but this year they said they wanted to be part of it. Everybody else had it and it didn’t make sense to not grant that to them.”

The new contract calls for police sergeants and patrol officers who use no sick hours during a six-month period to receive a $125 bonus. Those with less than eight sick hours in that same time frame will receive a $100 bonus, while those with eight to 16 sick hours will receive a $75 bonus.

In addition, Riegler stated, the new contract offers “a small stipend” to officers for the maintenance of their uniforms.

“The city will pay $350 per person each year to take care of their uniforms,” he said.

Council President Russ Sharnsky (at large) called the contracts “fair agreements” for both sides.

“It’s nice that the police department was willing to work with the city to get this settled,” he stated.

Also at the meeting, Deputy Service Director Ernie Staten said the city’s annual street repair program is in full swing.

“Every street in the 2014 street repair program has had some work done,” he said. “Every road has been touched by the contractor in some way so far.”

Staten said the contractor has until Nov. 1 to finish this year’s work, but the hope is to have the program completed a few months prior to that deadline.

“He’s put together a pretty aggressive schedule, and we hope that he’s done by the first of September,” Staten said. “But it’s still early in the process.”

Staten also added that not only did Fairlawn receive its annual recycling grant from the county this year, but there was an unexpected bonus.

“Every year, we apply to Summit[/Akron] Solid Waste [Management] Authority, which is now called ReWorks, for an annual recycling grant. Everyone in Summit County has the ability to apply for it, and I think most communities do apply,” Staten said. “We applied this year and were given $6,500, compared to the normal $5,000. The reason for that was that some of the trash haulers in our city reported some recycling, which by ordinance they have to recycle, but they did report it, and we moved that information on to [ReWorks], and they gave us an extra $1,500 in the grant. That money will go to pay for wages and blue recycle bags that we give to the residents.”

In other business:

  • An ordinance accepting the bid of Premier Safety & Service Inc. for the purchase of 24 self-contained breathing apparatus component packages and 24 spare air tanks for $139,147 was unanimously approved by Council.
    Sharnsky said the city’s portion of the purchase, which is only 5 percent of the total cost, already was included in the budget. The remainder of the cost for the equipment is being covered by grant money.
    “Our share will be approximately $7,000 — quite a deal,” said Fairlawn Fire Chief Russ Hose.
  • Council unanimously approved a resolution “approving and confirming” the appointment of Sharnsky to the Board of Directors of the Bath-Akron-Fairlawn Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).
    Sharnsky, who abstained from voting for the measure, joins Fairlawn City Council Vice President Bryan Nace (Ward 3) and Fairlawn Mayor William Roth on the board. Sharnsky is replacing former Fairlawn Councilman James Butler, who retired at the end of 2013.
    According to Riegler, the JEDD board is scheduled to meet later this month.
    “It’s been a while since we’ve had a meeting; I think it’s been about three years,” he said. “This meeting was called by Bath. It will be in Downtown Akron at their Council chambers.”
  • A resolution acknowledging the week of April 13 as “Public Safety Telecommunications Week” was unanimously approved by Council.
    “This is something we do annually to recognize our telecommunications workers,” said Councilwoman Barbara Potts (Ward 2). “I think it’s an honor to recognize them.”

The next Fairlawn City Council meeting is set for April 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, located at 3487 S. Smith Road.

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