Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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December 19, 2013

Council won't salvage city jobs

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Also, McCaffrey said, city officials just submitted a response to audit findings of the New York State Comptroller’s Office. Auditors reviewed the city’s finances after Lockport was declared to be in “moderate” fiscal stress by the comptroller in late summer.

“The thing you hear people say is, we have to get our fiscal house in order. In my opinion, for 2014, that’s the biggest challenge. I don’t think at this point we can put positions back that a month ago we didn’t have money for,” McCaffrey said.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Norm Allen, director of engineering and public works, asked members to consider restoring the laborer post. Allen said under the AFSCME contract his department would not be able to use part-time and seasonal employees if one full-timer is laid off.

”I don’t know how we’re going to get the work done,” he said.

Alderman John Lombardi III, R-1st Ward, said he agreed with bringing back the laborer, but couldn’t support restoring both jobs.

McCaffrey said the Council will monitor the budget closely. If expenses are less than what was budgeted, then it would be prudent for the Council to look at adding back positions, she said.

In a related matter, the Council authorized Tucker to sign off on a new agreement with the Hickory Club Police Benevolent Association, the city police union.

In the 2014 budget, four police officer positions were to be eliminated. According to Tucker, the new five-year agreement, which still has to be approved by Hickory Club members, includes a number of cost saving measures that would in essence pay for those positions.

Tucker said the agreement would bring a number of changes to the police department, as well as a retirement incentive and no pay raises for Hickory Club members until 2017. It’s expected four officers will retire, negating the need for layoffs.

“It’s going to save the city quite a bit of money,” Tucker said, adding the police union has been “very receptive” to the city’s fiscal issues.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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