The City Council on Monday night rejected a tentative contract between the city and the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association, which represents the Police Department. Immediately afterward, the Council passed a new contract worked out by Councilmen James McElrath and James Ventura.
Citing a fear of rising health insurance costs, members of the Council spoke out against a clause in the original contract that would have locked in benefits for officers who retired over the next four years.
Ventura said, "In the 10 years I've been on City Council we have struggled with the budget, and one of our biggest issues is health insurance. I cannot accept the fixed contribution amount for retirees in this agreement."
He said agreeing to the original contract would have put the city in jeopardy for years to come. McElrath agreed and said that the health insurance costs, locked in at 7.5 percent were a major hurdle for most Council members.
"Council over the past years has been unanimous in their feelings about paying more for health insurance," McElrath said. "There were certain members of their (PBA) association that would not have to pay the amount for health insurance that the Council will want them to pay. We're trying to get that changed."
The final vote was 7-1 against the plan, with Councilman Vivian Taylor voting in favor. Councilman John Calamunci was not at the meeting.
"I want to know who to deal with now!" said Sgt. Joe Genco, PBA president.
"We negotiated with the city's representatives, who they sent in to act on their behalf and came up with a deal. When they try to change the deal, it upsets the whole process. It's not just one item. That item on insurance was part of a package."
That package included union members paying a 12 percent premium for health insurance.
The contract approved by Council would eliminate the locked-in contribution levels and reword some "confusing" language.
In other business, the Council:
Approved the Department of Public Works' purchase of a new salt spreader, with the $80,000 coming from a nearly depleted contingency fund.
Voted to allow the Jamestown Fire Department to purchase new uniforms, taking another $20,000 from the contingency fund, leaving only $20,000 in the fund.