Council accepts fact-finder’s report on patrol officers’ contract

By Michael Seffrin -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council faced a roomful of visitors Monday night — most of them labor union members concerned about a still-unresolved dispute between the city and workers over a new contract.

Council did make progress on another employee contract, voting to accept the fact-finder’s report concerning Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council, Patrol Officers.

Citizens also were there to complain about delays in completing the Port Jefferson Road reconstruction project and trash pickup.

After an executive session at the end of the meeting, council passed a resolution accepting the fact-finder’s report dealing with police patrol officers. According to the State Employment Relations Board, the patrol officers on Friday had voted 16-0 also to accept the report.

In the report, fact-finder Harry Graham recommended 2 percent pay increases for each year of the three-year contract, 2015-17. (The union had proposed increases of 2.75, 2.5 and 2 percent.) Graham’s other recommendations include that overtime language, the fitness program, and the uniform allowance should remain unchanged. He did recommend clauses in the contract to set a statute of limitations on the life of discipline records.

Still unresolved is a new labor contract with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2429. Vickie Allen, human resources manager for the city, said Tuesday that the union has requested a meeting with the city.

Some AFSCME Local 2429 members and supporters attended the council meeting Monday night.

“Sometimes you guys don’t get a chance to see the people,” union bargaining representative Marcia Knox, of Dayton, told council. She said members of Local 2429 were attending the meeting to remind council about the important work they do for the city.

Local 2429 represents the city’s full-time service, maintenance and clerical departments. The city and union have been negotiating for a new contract since Oct. 14, 2014. Union members voted on a contract offer earlier this year and rejected it.

Knox’s comments came during the early part of the meeting after Mayor Mike Barhorst invited visitors to address council. Also speaking were residents concerned about the ongoing Port Jefferson Road project. The section of road between Wells Drive and Broadway Avenue has been closed since last spring. Work began in early May. The official completion date was Oct. 31, although city officials predicted at a meeting for residents last spring that it would be done earlier than that. What they did not foresee were heavy rains that delayed work and the discovery that an existing water main had been installed at an incorrect depth.

John Laws, who lives on Norwood Avenue and walks in the Port Jefferson Road area, and Bob Curlis, whose house is on the section of street under construction, questioned why the project is taking so long.

Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, said in addition to the rain and water main issues, the contractor also had to deal with a retaining wall. He said paving is scheduled Wednesday and Thursday and the project “should be done within two weeks.” Clough also explained that because it is an Ohio Department of Transportation-funded project, approvals must go through ODOT, which causes delays.

Curlis said because the weather this fall has been good, the project should have been completed. “There’s no excuse why it can’t be done,” he said.

Also addressing council was Harold Long, of New Bremen, who was concerned about garbage pickup at his property at 401-409 Michigan St. Because the city’s ordinance covers residential pickup for three-unit residences or smaller, Long must contract with a trash hauler for his larger complex.

Clough said Long would not have to get a trash Dumpster for the property in order to contract with a hauler; bags or cans could be used. Even if the city amended the ordinance to cover multi-unit residences such as Long’s, it would take some time to go through the legal process to do so, Clough said.

Mayor Mike Barhorst told Long that council will discuss trash collection at its next meeting.

By Michael Seffrin

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.