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Council, union officials to meet

December 4, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

STEUBENVILLE - City Council members have invited officials from the three unions representing city employees to a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. today to discuss cost savings ideas and measures.

City Manager Cathy Davison said Monday afternoon council initially will meet in executive session at 6 p.m. today with attorney Rob D'Anniballe to discuss personnel and then hold the public session.

D'Anniballe is assisting the city in its talks with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 Ohio Labor Council, the International Association of Firefighters Local 228 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2015.

Davison said 11 lay-off notices were sent out Monday to AFSCME-represented employees.

Jim Marquis, president of FOP Lodge No. 1, said representatives of the FOP Ohio Labor Council will attend the 6:30 p.m. meeting, and he will be at the regular City Council meeting at 7:30 p.m.

Brian Young, president of the AFSCME Local 2015, said he also will attend the 6:30 p.m. meeting.

"We proposed several ideas earlier and will be prepared to discuss those measures again," said Young.

And Chris Blackburn, president of the IAFF Local 228 said his union will keep "an open mind at the meeting."

"We already provided Cathy with our cost savings ideas. But after the knee jerk reaction by the administration to reject a Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grant application, I remain very concerned about the safety of our city residents and our firefighters," said Blackburn.

Davison said last week she will recommend two police department vacancies not be filled and the city not accept a possible renewal of the S.A.F.E.R. Grant, which will mean three firefighters will be laid off in March.

Davison also announced the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center will remain open this winter with three full-time parks and recreation employees replacing part-time recreation aides currently working at the center.

"We are not the evil union. We agreed to concessions in our current contract to help the city. We are trying to protect the residents of Steubenville and we want to go home at the end of our shift. The citizens of Steubenville need to question who is making these decisions. Our citizens should be outraged," Blackburn said.

He also said a cut in fire personnel may prompt the closing of the Pleasant Heights fire station.

The current police union contract expires in May, while the firefighters' contract ends in December 2013. and the AFSCME union contract is set to expire in March 2014.

"It is never easy to make difficult decisions like these. Steubenville is not alone. Communities across the state are facing difficult decisions like this every day across Ohio and the country," Davison has said.

She said several city employees have expressed interest in the $10,000 incentive plan that was introduced at last week's City Council sunshine meeting, "but no one has signed up for the offer. The employees have until Thursday to officially register their interest."

Council is set to officially approve the $10,000 incentive plan at tonight's meeting

Earlier this month Davison requested employees represented by the three city unions to agree to changes in the city health care program as well as a 7 percent pay cut.

"We are asking union and nonunion to share equally to resolve the deficit issue for the future of our city," Davison said last week.

She and the recreation board announced this month the Belleview Pool will not open in 2013.

The city manager also met with the city board of health this month to discuss more collaboration with the Jefferson County Board of Health.

Davison has cited the cuts in Local Government Funding from the state and rising utility costs as the main reasons for the deficit.

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