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Council To Vote On Employee Union Agreement

The city of Jamestown has reached an agreement with one of its bargaining units.

On Monday, the Jamestown City Council is slated to vote on a three-year contract agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA( Local 1000. According to the resolution, the new agreement will start Jan. 1, 2022, and expire Dec. 31, 2024. The contract has already been presented to and ratified by the union membership.

No additional contract information was included in the resolution.

In June 2020, the council had reached a three-year – 2019 to 2021 – retroactive contract agreement with the CSEA. Employees in the union received a retroactive pay increase of 2% in 2019 and 2020. The union membership, which includes 16 full-time and five part-time employees who work as clerical staff and engineers, received a 2.5% increase in 2021.

Last year, the CSEA union members also agreed to switch to the city’s “hybrid” insurance plan. Union members who participate in the Good Life Program will pay 18% for their health insurance while those who don’t pay 25%.

The deal with the CSEA might not be the last union agreement the city reaches by the end of the year. Three other employee unions – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 418 and two units of the Jamestown City Administrative Association (JCAA) – have contracts expiring at the end of the year.

Also, even though the city reached deals with both the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association and the Jamestown Firefighter Association Local 137 earlier this year on three-year – 2018 to 2020 – retroactive agreements, both those bargaining units are not currently under contract.

In other business:

¯ The council is slated to vote on possibly applying for municipal deer management system permits with the state Department of Environmental Conservation as part of a controlled deer hunt in the city. Earlier this month, the council heard the controlled deer hunt plan from Tom Nelson, Ward 6 councilman and Jamestown Deer Ad Hoc Committee chairman, discussed for the first time with the full council the proposal the committee created to hopefully decrease the alleged overabundance of deer in the city.

The proposed plan is to select 15 experienced licensed volunteer hunters with archery equipment to hunt in isolated areas on property owned by the city. The five proposed areas would be Jones Memorial Park, Jackson-Taylor Park, Bergman Park, Allen Park and the stormwater management pond on Buffalo Street.

The hunters would be in the woods and not near the open areas of the parks. They will be using archery equipment and will shoot from elevated positions so the arrow will go straight into the ground on a misfire. The hunters would only be allowed to kill antlerless deer, with each being allowed to kill up to four deer, with half of the meat going to the Food Bank of Western New York.

Nelson said there would be warning signs installed in the designated areas when the hunt is happening, which is proposed to take place from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.

Nelson said controlled deer hunts have worked in other Western New York municipalities and communities across the country. He said the damage deer do to plants, bushes and landscaping is the complaint he hears the most from his constituents.

“It’s a problem I think we can’t ignore,” he said.

Kim Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman, and Marie Carrubba, Ward 4 councilwoman, both said they have been contacted by more people against a controlled deer hunt in the city than those in favor of the proposal.

“People don’t want hunting in their backyard,” Ecklund said. “Call it what you want – it’s hunting.”

¯ The council is also scheduled to vote on new health care insurance options for Medicare-eligible participants in the city’s self-insured program.

Last week, Ecklund said the program would be voluntary for the Medicare-eligible participant to enroll in one of two new plans. Also, after one year anyone who chooses to leave the new options would be allowed to return to the city’s plan if they are not satisfied.

Elliot Raimondo, city corporation counsel, said if either of the two new options would change, those who left the city’s plan would be allowed back. He also said that Highmark Western New York, formerly Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, has guaranteed the two new plans for at least two years.

Jeff Russell, At-Large councilman, who chaired the Health Insurance Committee created by Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, said any Medicare-eligible participant who enrolls in one of the two new plans would not have to pay for health insurance for five years. He said after five years, the enrollee would be locked into the current rate they pay for life.

According to a staff report on the new health care options, the potential savings to the city are dependent upon the total number of enrollees. The city could potentially save $1,580 per participant per year and on average could save up to $1,800 per year per participant in the initial five years.

In his 2021 Executive Budget proposal, Sundquist had proposed switching retirees over the age of 65 from the city’s self-funded health care program to a medicare supplemental plan, which Sundquist said, at the time, would result in $1.1 million in savings. The proposal was pulled by the council before voting on the 2021 budget last November because current and retired union members spoke against the proposal and picketed in front of the Jamestown Municipal Building.

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