The town of Longboat Key and its firefighters are in familiar hot seats — they are heading back to the negotiation table.
Both sides have still not ratified a one-year contract, which expires Sept. 30.
On March 2, the commission ruled in favor on the following contract point of contention between the town and firefighters: The town should no longer count vacation and sick leave as compensation when determining a final pension payout for retired employees.
However, last week town pension attorney James Linn discovered that imposing that contract term would jeopardize the approximately $262,000 the town receives annually from the state to help fund its firefighter pension.
State law mandates that towns are in jeopardy of losing state monies used to help fund pensions if a change like a pension payout modification is made any time after 1999.
An executive session of the commission was held Thursday, April 28, to discuss the issues involved with imposing the contract term on the firefighters.
The commission gave Town Manager Bruce St. Denis direction to either work with the firefighters on a one-year contract that doesn’t include imposing the new pension modification or write a letter to the firefighter union that explains the issue, along with a new one-year contract that excludes that point from the contract.
St. Denis has chosen to hold another negotiation session with the firefighters regarding the issue at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 10, at Town Hall.
“It’s important for us to sit down, discuss the issue and review the contract again,” St. Denis said.
Longboat Key Fire District Union Vice President Brandon Desch told the Longboat Observer he is looking forward to returning to the negotiation table.
“We will sit down with our attorneys and try and come to an agreement that everyone can agree with,” Desch said.
After the one-year contract is ratified, the town and the firefighters will begin negotiating a new three-year contract.
The town, however, has previously stated it will not spend any money on a new contract.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].