Struthers council, police union OK state report on new pact

By Jeanne Starmack

The pact talks between the city and the police union began in January.

STRUTHERS — The police union and city council have voted to accept a state fact finder’s report on a new police contract.

The council decided unanimously Monday to accept the report, which calls for a pay freeze for the first year in a three-year contract, said Detective Ray Greenwood, president of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Lodge 41.

Negotiations could reopen on the contract in January, said Greenwood and Mayor Terry Stocker.

City auditor Tina Morell said the union can file to reopen negotiations. A fact finder would determine whether the city had enough money at that time to negotiate raises.

The previous police contract was up in August 2008.

A change in union representation from the Fraternal Order of Police to the OPBA delayed the start of talks, which began in January, said Greenwood.

Members of the union voted Thursday to approve the fact finder’s report, he said.

Greenwood said the union voted for the pay freeze to help the city through a shortfall.

Income-tax receipts were projected to be down $230,000 this year, said Morell.

The city made cuts to balance its budget, she added — including merging the city’s health department with the county’s and a contract for a juvenile-diversion officer.

Morell said the shortfall was already $230,000 by the end of June.

There were no changes in health-care coverage, Greenwood said.

Health care costs the city $1,059 for family coverage and $429 a month for single coverage. Employees pay 6 percent of that cost, she said.

Morell said one police officer costs the city between $65,000 and $70,000 a year, including wages, benefits and pensions.

There are 15 officers, including 11 patrol officers and four captains, in the department.

Morell said city council likely will ratify the new contract at its meeting in September.