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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010 5 years ago

Police department signs three-year contract

by: Kurt Schultheis Managing Editor

The Longboat Key Police Department has signed a three-year labor contract that the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department won’t even consider.

On Friday, Aug. 6, the police department delivered a three-year contract to Town Manager Bruce St. Denis that leaves its current wages intact.

In return for the three-year deal, which begins Oct. 1, the town will only give the officers raises and cost of living allowances if other town employees receive them.

The town will also leave the pension alone for the officers currently on duty. But in return, the town is taking vacation time and sick time out of an officer’s final com- pensation package for purposes of calculating a final pension payout. The town also reserves the right to modify the pension plan for new police officers.

The police department’s bargaining unit and the Town Commission must ratify the contract.

“It’s a pretty simple three-year contract,” said town labor attorney Reynolds Allen. “We will keep things the same for current employees in regards to the pension, but the town reserves the right to change the plan, close the plan or put together a new plan for new employees and for any current employees that would rather have the new plan.”

St. Denis was happy to come to terms with the police department.

“It was our last and best plan and we’re glad to put it behind us,” St. Denis said.

The firefighter department, however, is a different story.

A last-ditch meeting requested by firefighter paramedic and District Vice President for the Longboat Key District of International Association of Firefighters Brendan Densch was not productive and the town has since pulled a contract, similar to one the police officers signed, off the table.

“We are getting ready for an impasse hearing on Aug. 17,” said St. Denis, who confirmed he is no longer allowing the firefighters to consider the deal, after they countered again with a proposal that requests guaranteed wage and cost-of-living increases in years two and three of the contract.

The town’s stance with both departments has been to sign contracts that don’t involve spending money at all.

The firefighters continued to argue the town has more than enough money ($5.1 million in reserves) to pay them their wage and cost-of-living increases, which they believe were offered to them as part of their contracts when they were hired.

The firefighters, over the last year, have rejected three offers from the town that include a variety of options — no wage increases in year one of a contract and wage increase considerations in years two and three, if other town employees receive raises as well.

Since impasse has been declared, a special magistrate is being called upon to review proposals presented by both sides and make a decision that’s not legally binding.

If neither the town nor the firefighters agree to the magistrate’s ruling, the Town Commission can be called upon to make a decision.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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