Council OKs Outside Counsel For Review Of Firefighter Hires

Members of the Jamestown City Council are pictured during their meeting Monday. The council approved retaining Bond, Schoeneck & King as outside legal counsel as part of the hiring of eight new firefighters. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

An agreement to hire eight new city firefighters largely utilizing grant funding will be reviewed by outside legal counsel that was approved by the City Council this week.

Council members on Monday voted unanimously to retain Bond, Schoeneck & King out of Buffalo. Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2 and council president, said the law firm is familiar with the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant — funds that will go toward hiring the new firefighters.

Bond, Schoeneck & King also is familiar with city contracts dealing with its police and fire departments.

“So, the legwork is pretty well done already,” Dolce said. “They know the players; they know the people to contact; they have a good working relationship. We want to try to make it as smooth as possible … to get that moving forward as soon as possible.”

In May, after numerous delays, the City Council voted to suspend a hiring freeze and hire eight additional firefighters for three years using a $1.8 million SAFER grant.

The resolution is contingent upon the successful negotiation and tentative agreement with the Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association, Local 137, that after the “full utilization or expiration” of the SAFER grant funding, the additional eight firefighters hired under the SAFER grant funding will not constitute a new Jamestown Fire Department minimum staffing level under the impact arbitration order from 2002. The resolution approved by the council requires that the tentative agreement be reviewed and approved by outside legal counsel.

The resolution further states that Local 137 waives its right to pursue any legal action against the city if the city is not able to secure additional outside funding to retain the new firefighters after the three-year grant period.

The third stipulation of the resolution requires the city to “make good faith and reasonable efforts” to obtain outside funding that will be needed to retain the additional eight firefighters after the end of the grant program.

Finally, the resolution approved by the City Council requires both the formal ratification of the tentative agreement by the voting members of Local 137, as well as formal ratification of the agreement by the City Council and the execution of the final agreement by Mayor Eddie Sundquist, which will be subject to the approval of outside legal counsel.

Asked of a timeline moving forward now that outside legal counsel has been retained, Dolce said, “I don’t know if there’s a specific timeline. I know that they’re exchanging information now and, hopefully, we can get that wrapped up in, hopefully, the next month or so, just depending on how fast they can get together and hammer things out.

“It’s basically for them to take a look at the contract and take a look at the agreement and making sure that everything is up to speed. You’re into holiday period here, so I would guess into July, hopefully by August at the latest, we will be able to have something moving forward.”


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