“We are anxiously awaiting the case to move forward to be educated, apparently, on the true nature of the city’s financial position.” – Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi
JAMESTOWN – Mayor Sam Teresi says the arbitration hearing between the city and its police union to settle contract differences wont get underway until February 2018.
The Jamestown Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association has been working without a new contract since Jan. 1, 2016. Since that time, both the city and union have tried to iron out a new collective bargaining agreement but the process reached an impasse earlier this year. As a result, the contract issue will go before an arbitration panel in mid February.
During Monday night’s city council work session, Teresi said February was the time the two sides settled on because of conflicts later this year with holiday schedules, as well as the union planning to have a financial consultant testify, but not being able to do so until mid February.
“Apparently the financial consultant they hired will be coming in to demonstrate to us that the city has a very robust financial position and is able to pay whatever needs to be paid in order to settle this matter,” the mayor said. “[The consultant] is questioning whether or not the finances that are presented to you on a monthly basis by our own city comptroller, the audit by our independent auditor, what we’ve been advised by the state comptroller’s office as well as the state division of budget, and the governor’s office who felt it necessary to bringing in $1 million in incentive payments and corrective aid payments to the city on a one-time basis to assist with our restructuring and downsizing initiatives – apparently none of that is true…. We are anxiously awaiting the case to move forward to be educated, apparently, on the true nature of the city’s financial position.”
Jamestown officials have been grappling with financial challenges the past several budgets and is in the process of trying to identify ways to close an estimated $950,000 deficit in the $35.7 million budget proposed for next year. The mayor has said that many of the financial challenges are due to a lack of local economic growth, coupled with unfunded state mandates tied to minimum staffing requirements, salaries, retirement, and healthcare costs.
The independent arbitrator who has been assigned to work on the contract is Howard Foster of the University of Buffalo School of Management, who’s arbitrated more than 800 labor-management disputes.
Earlier this month, Teresi said retired city clerk and financial services manager Jim Olson will represent the city and John Crotty will represent the police union on the arbitration panel.
Other collective bargaining groups working without a contract include the Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association and Jamestown City Administrative Association.
The lack of an updated contract between the city and its employees is expected to create a challenge for city council members as they work through the 2018 budget process.