Council Approves Union Contract Agreement
The fourth of the city’s six employee bargaining units will soon be under a new contract.
On Monday, the Jamestown City Council approved the new three-year agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 1000. The agreement is retroactive to the start of 2019 and will end at the end of 2021. According to the memorandum of agreement, employees in the union will receive a retroactive pay increase of 2% in 2019 and 2020. The union members, which includes 16 full-time and five part-time employees who work as clerical staff and engineers, will receive a 2.5% increase in 2021.
Elliot Raimondo, city corporation counsel, said part of the reason the union members will be receiving retroactive pay increases is to get the workers above the Upstate New York minimum wage mark.
“Obviously, CSEA employees work very hard. We ran up against the New York state minimum wage this year and last year, which caused a greater increase,” he said.
Raimondo said the union members also switched to the city’s new “hybrid” insurance plan. Union members who participate in the Good Life Program will pay 18% for their health insurance while those who don’t will pay 25%.
According to a June 2015 article in The Post-Journal, benefits in the previous contract for CSEA included employees and retirees covered by the city’s self-insurance plan paying 19% for their health insurance premium starting July 1, 2015. Before that, employees were paying 17%.
Effective Jan. 1, 2016, employees could voluntarily be part of the Good Life Program. Those participating in the wellness plan paid 19% for their health care.
Those who do not participate paid 26%. In 2017, those participating in the wellness program paid 20% for health care. Those who do not participate in the wellness plan paid 27%.
Raimondo said four of the six city employee unions are now participating in the “hybrid” health insurance plan. He said it’s a lower cost plan for the city compared to the previous plan. The hybrid plan was first introduced last year when city officials reached contract agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and two units of the Jamestown City Administrative Association.
The “hybrid” health care plan calls for members to pay a higher deductible, but there is less out-of-pocket costs. The insurance plan is available on a volunteer basis to current members and retiree members.
Last week, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said union members are scheduled to vote on the contract agreement after the council’s approval. He said the union should also approve the agreement.
“We believe both parties have a pretty good contract and will ratify accordingly,” Sundquist told The Post-Journal Friday.
With the new agreement, the city has two unions not under contract — Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association and the Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 137.
“We’re glad to have one contract out of three that were outstanding,” Raimondo said about the new agreement with CSEA.
In other business, the council approved adjustments on the 2020 budget because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the council, during a special meeting, approved to cut this year’s budget by $1,155,674 because of the impact the pandemic has made on sales tax revenues and for a possible cut in state aid.
“Based on our estimates, the city of Jamestown now faces a potential budget shortfall between $2 million to $4.75 million. These estimates are due to a projected 10% to 30% decrease in sales tax revenue, a 20% to 30% reduction in New York state aid and a general loss in miscellaneous city revenue (permits, parking fines, etc.),” states the city’s COVID-19 restructuring plan, which was signed by both Sundquist and Joseph Bellitto, former city comptroller. “We want to be very clear that these are estimates given current financial information, and like all things during this pandemic, subject to change depending on federal or state funding, budget realignments or further changes in law.”
Phase One cuts include a $100,000 budget reallocation from the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency to the city because of additional funding the city has received through the CARES Act; a $100,000 savings through the Public Works Department central garage; a $289,000 savings in Public Work Department streets; a $251,000 savings in the Parks Department; and a $310,187 savings in overall benefits.
The council approved to enter into a contract agreement with IPL Corp. for the illumination of the Washington and South Main Street bridges as part of the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk illumination plan, which was part of the funding the state provided the city for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Of the $10 million the city received from the state for the DRI program, $428,500 will be paid to IPL Corp. to implement the lighting plan on the bridges.
The council approved to enter into contract with Grindline Skateparks Inc. of Seattle, Wash., for the design build of the new Riverwalk Skate Park project for the cost of $500,000. Earlier this month, Jeff Lehman, city public works director, said city officials received three bids for design of the skatepark. He said the skateboard experts on the committee for the new park selected Grindline of Seattle, Wash., as the best of the three proposals. He said Lake Shore Paving, who also bid on the project, will assist Grindline with some of the construction work.
The skate park is being funded by a $250,000 matching grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation, with assistance from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. foundation. The local share of the $500,000 skate park is coming from the city’s Urban Development Action Grant fund, federal Community Development Block Grant funding and donations raised through several grassroots efforts by the local skating community. The new skateboard park is planning to be built near McCrea Point Park.