Police Union Presents Its Case To Arbitration Panel

According to attorney Charles DeAngelo, Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi has already made the case for why Jamestown Police Department employees deserve a raise.

Thursday was the first day of two for the arbitration hearing between the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association and the city. The city’s police officers worked 2016 and 2017 without a contract.

DeAngelo, representing the police officers, said Teresi was right when he budgeted revenue sharing payments from the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities electric and water divisions, which averaged around $465,000 a year between 2013-16. However, the revenue sharing payments stopped in 2017, which was also the first year without a contract for police officers.

DeAngelo said it is no coincidence that the revenue sharing payment stopped the first year there was no contract with the police union. He said the state comptroller and Public Service Commission, along with the city’s bonding agency Standard & Poor’s, have all said the city should be taking a revenue payment from the BPU. He added that during the four years the city did take a revenue payment, Teresi had to defend the action to outside the city BPU customers, who thought it was unfair that their payments were going toward the city’s budget, and to the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier, who argued that the revenue payments would increase electric rates that could possibly drive businesses away.

DeAngelo said city officials should use the BPU to increase their revenues instead of putting the burden on city taxpayers and their employees, like the police officers, by offering no pay increases.

“The mayor has helped make the best case possible for the police officers,” he said.

How much the BPU pays in tax equivalency payments was also questioned by DeAngelo, who said the formula hasn’t changed since 1972. He said the BPU has $115 million in assessed property in the city that is tax exempt. He added that the BPU is underpaying when it comes to tax equivalency payments.

DeAngelo said during negotiations the police union proposed a 5 percent pay increase, but were expecting a reasonable counter-offer from the city. However, he said the city made only one proposal, which was a zero percent pay increase for the officers. He added that the union is willing to take less than a 5 percent increase, but city officials offering no increase at all is ridiculous.

During negotiations, DeAngelo said city officials wanted the union to increase their health care insurance premium by 2 percent, from 17 to 19 percent. He said, when compared to other municipal police department’s in the state, Jamestown Police Department officers are already paying the highest premium rates.

“If you don’t take care of police and fire, who do you take care of,” he said.

During the hearing, DeAngelo also talked about several other rules union officers have to deal with when it comes to taking vacations, shift differential pay and the call-in to work policy.

Another new rule that has been proposed by the city is that all officers would be required to live in the city. DeAngelo said this is not fair because a police officer shouldn’t be demanded to live their life outside of work in the same city they patrol where they could be recognized by someone they’ve arrested.

Jamestown Police Department Lt. Jason Donato testified to how he had an awkward situation with his wife and three children while dining at Applebees once when two men he arrested were seated in the booth next to him.

During the hearing DeAngelo also talked about the dangers of the job. One of his witnesses, a retired Jamestown officer, was involved in an altercation when he was badly injured by someone he was trying to arrest. The retired police employee said he had five surgeries on his nose, eye socket, sinuses and his shoulder following the incident. He also testified that he now has an issue with stuttering, which is the result of post concussion syndrome.

DeAngelo also called Kevin Decker, Valuation Resource Group co-founder, who assessed that city officials poor budgeting led them to having no fund balance. He said too many years city officials built deficits into the budget that were accounted for by the using fund balance. He added that city officials “shot themselves in the foot” by approving budgets that could only be balanced by using their savings.

“The city was passing unrealistic budget documents,” he said.