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City union agrees to forgo pay hike to help trim budget CSEA concession could save $470,000 in mayor's plan

One of Olean's three unions voted to approve a one-year wage freeze Monday, giving up their contract's 3.5 percent pay hike to help Mayor David Carucci trim about $470,000 from his proposed $14.5 million budget for 2006-07.

Full details of the concession by the Civil Service Employees Association were not disclosed, and union officials could not be reached to comment.

Carucci also said Monday that another part of the package is an offer to members of the city's three unions for early retirement buyouts for "as many workers that want to go."

He said if the deal comes off as planned, $1.2 million can be subtracted from his $14.5 million proposal and the anticipated 37.8 percent tax rate hike could be reduced.

"I'm ecstatic; I'm hoping the Common Council is going to be as happy as I am and grab this and accept it and go," said Carucci, shortly after the CSEA's vote results were handed to him Monday afternoon.

Aldermen were told last week that a new budget draft would be unveiled today, but Carucci said he hopes to present a new draft of the 2006-07 spending plan by next Tuesday, 11 days before the plan must be passed by the Council according to the City Charter.

Carucci said the police and fire concessions are not final. He said those unions have tentatively negotiated the same wage freeze deal as the CSEA, whose contract expires in 2008. The concessions would affect the final year of the police and fire contracts, which expire in 2007.

"If he can get [the tax increase] down to single-digit numbers, he would have a chance of Council passage, but I can't see that happening with a 3.5 percent wage decrease for one year," said Council President Ray Wangelin, R-3rd Ward.

Wangelin said Monday night he had not been informed of the CSEA vote results, and he expressed doubts that Carucci will have enough go-aheads for retirement buyouts to work up accurate numbers in a new budget draft before April 15.

Glenn Van Dixon, R-1st Ward, said he received an e-mailed message Monday from Carucci informing him that CSEA voted, 62-17, to freeze wages for one year. He said he expects Carucci to ask aldermen to meet with him in an executive session Tuesday night to fully discuss the concessions.

"But I don't know how I would vote on a revised budget proposal until I hear the specifics. We don't know all of it yet," Van Dixon said.

Carucci said Monday that police patrolmen are waiting to finalize their concession package until after the Council reacts to his choice for a new chief of the Police Department. The appointee will replace Brian J. Donnelly, who recently announced his retirement. He said he may name the new chief Tuesday night.

The aldermen meet at 6:30 p.m. as the Committee of the Whole, and the full Council session begins at 7:30.

The mayor said he plans to hold a private meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday with representatives of the CSEA, police and fire unions to finalize the details of the wage and benefits concessions. He said he hopes the final package can be discussed by the Council in a special session later Wednesday or sometime Thursday or Friday.

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