|Perrysburg challenges collective bargaining|
|Written by By WILL MALONE Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 08 October 2009 08:42|
PERRYSBURG - On the heels of contentious arbitration with the firefighters' union, members of city council and administration remain unsatisfied with state law governing the collective bargaining process.
Council heard Tuesday from member Maria Ermie that the Personnel Committee plans to draft a resolution for council approval that expresses concern to the Ohio General Assembly about Ohio Revised Code 4117. Specifically, members of the committee disapprove of a section that grants a conciliator power to override local authority and require compliance with an award for settlement.
Ermie reiterated her position that the law, as-is, shifts control of one of the largest sections of a city's budget from local elected officials to an arbitrator "with little knowledge of the city and no accountability to the voter." She had suggested that the city explore interests among other local communities in requesting a state review of the ORC.
Mayor Nelson Evans, though, said he received few comments when he floated the idea at the most recent Wood County Mayors Association meeting. He said, however, that officials from the City of Fostoria were "kind of appalled" when they heard what Perrysburg was "forced to do."
Council approved an ordinance in a 5-1 vote last month, authorizing the city to enter into a contract with International Association of Firefighters Local 3331 that would include a 6.25-percent wage increase next year with a reopener in 2011. Approval of the binding contract was required by a conciliator's decision.
"Even if we ended up being the only municipality that did it, I think it's important that this be brought up," member Mike Olmstead said, adding that change would only come if local governments "start pushing back on some of this stuff."
Administrator John Alexander said it would be reasonable for the General Assembly to review the law, which he said is still relatively unchanged since its passage in 1984. He said stories from local governments might offer some their experiences negotiating the law during that process.
Alexander told the Personnel Committee last month that a level playing field should exist for public employees, but that there has been an erosion of local government rights in the new firefighters contract and that there needs to be further definition of elected officials' management rights.
"I would certainly support any effort we could make to have the General Assembly look at 4117," member Joe Lawless said.
Lawless offered that he also opposed the June 10 Ohio Supreme Court ruling, which upheld a 2006 state law that bars a political subdivision of the state from requiring its employees to reside within that political subdivision.
Council gave first reading at the meeting to ordinances restricting residency for emergency-sensitive personnel to Wood County or any adjacent county and repealing an older ordinance with stricter residency requirements.
The police sergeants' and dispatchers' bargaining units have filed civil suit against the city and are seeking declaratory judgment that provisions in their contracts restricting residency to certain boundaries within and adjacent to the city are invalid. After the suit was filed in August, Ermie said the city maintained the court decision was not based on negotiated contracts.
The city also passed an ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of $13.7 million in bonds for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. The ordinance will allow Finance Director David Creps to convert about $10 million in existing notes as well as about $3.7 million in sewer-related debt into one 20-year bond with a fixed rate. Traditionally, the city has rolled bond-anticipation notes over annually.
The estimated interest rate is about 4.4 percent, and the bond is recallable after 10 years.
Council passed two resolutions to pursue grants through the Environmental Protection Agency, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to potentially recover up to $352,500 for the Maumee River sanitary interceptor project and $52,000 for the lift station telemetry project.
In addition, council:
¥ Entered executive session to discuss pending litigation but took no action.
¥ Heard from Alexander that only one company had responded to a request for proposals for a public transportation alternative study but that it was not what the city was looking for. He said one company declined to offer a proposal due to organizational capacity issues and another because it was busy with other projects. He said inquiries have been submitted to two other companies about why they did not submit proposals.
¥ Passed ordinances and resolutions: accepting the application of and changing the boundary lines with respect to annexation of the roughly 1.6-acre Shiple property near Fort Meigs and Eckel Junction roads; and allowing non-bargaining personnel to accrue up to 80 hours of compensatory time.
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