Last month, at the October 15, 2014 Council Meeting, Council approved a new 3 year contract with the Maple Heights Fire Fighter’s Union with a vote of 5 yes and 2 present.
Minimum Staffing Reduced from 8 to 6
The contract’s biggest savings to the City of Maple Heights was found in a reduction of the minimum firefighter staffing level from 8 to 6, a cost savings of about $1 million per year. The Maple Heights Fire Department has been operating at this level since July 2nd, 2014. The union also agreed to allow a maximum of 3 people to take vacation at one time instead of 4. These changes have permitted the City to assign 9 firefighters per shift (down from 12). This will minimize overtime which had skyrocketed due to an understaffed department trying to meet the 8 man minimum staffing level.
Increase in Employee Healthcare Contributions
The firefighters agreed to a significant increase in Healthcare contributions $100 (single)/$200 (family) up from $20/$40. This is projected to save the city $42,000 per year. However, they did NOT switch to the new healthcare plan as hoped. Had they changed, the city would have saved $137,000. Both of these changes to healthcare were part of the Financial Recovery Plan.
Late Addition to Agenda. Pushed Through on First Reading.
Originally, Law Director John Montello told council there was no need to pass the contract that night, especially since it was added late and no one was expecting them to. But, Mayor Lansky then tells Council that “everyday we are on the old contract just cost us more money.” Which frankly, just wasn’t true since the biggest cost savings (reducing minimum staffing levels) in the contract had been in place since July 2nd, 2014, a fact mentioned earlier in the meeting. Additionally, the increased employee healthcare contributions don’t start until January of 2015.
The contract was an addendum to the original agenda. Legislation is due to Clerk of Council 7 days prior to a meeting. An addendum is due by noon on Monday prior to the meeting. Council received the contract on Friday. All legislation requires 3 readings unless the rules are suspended by a 3/4 (6) affirmative vote. Emergency legislation requires a 2/3 (5 ) affirmative majority vote for passage. While it is true that Council only had 30 days from the submission of the agreement to approve it, the November 5th, 2014 meeting would have fallen within that time frame, requiring only one special meeting.
Watch the discussion between Council, Montello, Mayor Lansky and Chief Kavaliunas.