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City Council approves public works pacts

The City Council on Monday, at its last meeting of the year, unanimously approved labor contracts with employees of the Department of Public Works, which makes up more than one-third of the city's work force of 155.

The identical contracts resulted from negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, covering about 40 public works employees, and the Civil Service Employees Association, representing 20 supervisors and clerical workers.

The four-year pacts provide no raise in the first year, effective last April 1, but offer members an additional five days of vacation or sick leave. In the next three years, the raises are 2.5 percent, 2.75 percent and 2.85 percent.

Changes in employee contributions to health insurance will also benefit the city in coming years. The cost to the city is estimated at $185,000 over the four-year period.

Most of the Council meeting centered on an amendment to spend $50,000 to create part-time positions for an ordinance enforcement officer and a clerk-typist.

The plan failed on a 5-4 tabling motion, with the minority urging help in solving growing problems in some city neighborhoods over garbage, unsightly yards and other cleanup issues.

The city has a Neighborhood Improvement Committee, which has been working with at least three Council members to tour areas, particularly in Wards 2 and 5, with problems that range from code violations to unsightly yards.

The Council also approved without dissent an amendment to its fee schedule, ranging from $5 (up from $2) for fingerprinting to $200 (up from $100) for site plan reviews. The city estimates it will gain about $8,000 in additional revenue.

The boost in fees and addition of some new charges is a fallout from the city's anticipated $3 million loss in operating expenses over three years.

While the fees will not offset the deficits, officials said, they will bring revenue more in line with actual costs.

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