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POLICE UNION, CITY SETTLE BINGO PAY ISSUE

Attorneys for the city and the police union have reached agreement on settling a back-pay claim for bingo inspections conducted by detectives.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Allen D. Miskell said that at a meeting last week the sides agreed to pay about $4,500 to each of four detectives, one of whom is now retired, for bingo inspections conducted in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

"It was a very amicable meeting," said Officer Paul M. Beakman, president of the Hickory Club Police Benevolent Association. "We have a new administration. They're willing to sit down and talk."

Miskell said the exact figures are still to be calculated, but he said the bill to be eventually presented to the Common Council will be roughly $18,000.

Beakman said state law requires monthly police inspections of all bingo games in the city.

He said the city was paying the detectives a flat stipend of about $540 per year for the work, but the union insisted that, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the officers were entitled to their regular hourly rate plus 50 percent.

The city's refusal to pay time-and-a-half for bingo inspections led to a lawsuit in U.S. District Court over back pay for 1994 and 1995. That suit also included claims for overtime that was not paid to other officers for other duties besides bingo. A July 1998 settlement cost the city about $52,000.

But according to Beakman, the city never came up with money owed for bingo inspections in the three subsequent years.

Beakman said the union hadn't sued over that yet, but it would have if the city hadn't settled.

"They were looking at triple damages," Beakman said.

The problem is now permanently rectified.

"This matter was properly treated in 1999," Miskell said.

Beakman said the four detectives split the year up into quarters, and one of them would handle all the bingo inspections during that three-month period.

At the time covered by the back-pay claim, there were six bingo games operating in the city.

The payment to each detective is expected to be about $1,500 per year.

Miskell said there are still questions about how the back-pay deal will affect the pension paid to the now-retired officer, Richard Golanka. His pension is based on the amount he made during his last year on the job.

Miskell said he and Hickory Club attorney Edward P. Perlman agreed to write jointly to the state retirement system for guidance. He said the payment package will not be presented to the Council until after an answer is received from Albany.

Perlman could not be reached to comment on the matter.

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