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Union resists deal on police dispatch

A deal to shift the city's police dispatching chores, and the six dispatchers, to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office appears poised for approval next week.

However, the union representing the six dispatchers is still fighting the idea, although the contract between the city and the county is not contingent on union approval.

Mayor Robert G. Ortt said an agreement has been submitted to the Civil Service Employees Association, whose local president, William M. Davignon, said that it won't be signed in its current state.

Neither Davignon nor CSEA spokeswoman Lynn Miller would say what the hang-up is, but at a news conference Wednesday, Ortt released a list of CSEA demands and the city's responses to them.

"We're negotiating the impact of this on the six employees," Miller said. "If we can't reach an agreement with the city, we'll have to consider legal action to protect their best interests."

The contract to be voted Tuesday by the Common Council and the County Legislature would shift police dispatching duties to the Sheriff's Office as of July 1. The contract envisions the transfer of the six city dispatchers to the county payroll.

"They have the option of not coming," Sheriff James R. Voutour said.

Ortt said the city would pay the county for six dispatcher positions for the next five years, whether the current North Tonawanda employees are working at the Sheriff's Office or not.

In an April 2 letter to Ortt, Davignon sought a $5,000 one-time payment for each of the dispatchers to compensate them for any trouble a commute to Lockport might cause.

Issues mentioned included vehicle maintenance costs, exceeding mileage limits on leases, child care expenses and the possibility of having to move closer to Lockport. The union also sought an additional mileage stipend of $4,300 per dispatcher.

Ortt said the city won't pay the $5,000, although it will pay a one-time mileage stipend of $1,488. "This just shows what a nice guy I am," Ortt said.

County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said North Tonawanda will pay the county's full cost of salary and benefits for the six positions this year and next. The amount would be $236,991 for the last six months of this year.

For 2014, the city would pay the county 75 percent of the six positions' costs. That proportion would then decrease to 50 percent, then to 25 percent. In 2017, the county would bear the entire expense.

Ortt said the change means the city doesn't have to spend as much as $500,000 on a new police communications center. In all, he estimated savings for the city of $1.2 million.

Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda, said the county is applying for a $400,000 state grant to help cover its costs.