The Niles Times
In a contract proposal before City Council and the city firefighters' union, firefighters would take a wage freeze and a step-increase to full-time pay in exchange for first responder bonuses and an extra week of vacation.
"I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to the firemen for their cooperation, Councilman Stephen Papalas said. "I for one am very concerned about our revenue."
Mayor Ralph Infante said he hoped the rest of the city's workers, such as the police union, followed suit. Non-union workers and management also likely will be asked to take a wage freeze, he said.
"The goal is to avoid layoffs," Infante said.
City income tax collections are likely going to be down $500,000 from last year. Last year's collections were down $370,000 from 2007.
Council passed a first reading of the contract Wednesday and will vote on it again Thursday and Friday in special meetings set for 8:30 a.m in the city building.
Union negotiator Rodney Freel said the contract proposal would be presented to the 28-member union Monday and they would then have 72 hours to vote on the proposal.
"There are a lot of different opinions," Freel said. "We'll have to see if it has the majority votes to pass."
Freel said he wished the city was offering more for the firefighters.
Included with the wage freeze are an additional week of vacation and a step period for full-time pay. New firefighters will start out at 60 percent of the base pay of $49,500; that will rise to 70 percent in the second year, 80 percent in the third year and 90 percent in the fourth year. In the fifth year, the firefighter would receive full pay.
In other action, council:
Heard from city grants coordinator Mark Hess that the city has received the federal funds necessary to build the Niles Bike Path. The project has been in the works for nine years and will cost $3.4 million to complete. It has been delayed by disagreements with railroad companies over right-of-ways;
Heard about the new road paving program, which came in under the $300,000 budget. The city will be able to pave all of the 11 projects it had proposed. The contract was awarded to Shelley and Sands.