Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Union workers wouldn't see raise first year
Increases could total three percent second, third year
  CELINA - City union employees will not receive a raise the first year of a new three-year contract if approved by city council.
The contract would give a 1 percent salary increase the second year and a 2 percent increase the third year.
Council members unanimously approved first reading of four ordinances that would provide new contracts for the unions representing the firefighters, municipal employees, police and city dispatchers.
All of the unions are working with one-year contracts that expire in September or October.
Council on Monday night went into an executive session to discuss personnel before adding the four ordinances to the agenda and taking action. Because only four council members were present - June Scott, Angie King and Bill Sell were absent - the rules could not be suspended.
Council members meet again at 6 p.m. today at city hall to hear second reading of the ordinances. The final reading is planned for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the utilities conference room.
Council is working to have the contracts approved before Friday, when Ohio Senate Bill 5 takes effect.
However, attorneys expressed varying opinions about whether the law will actually become effective that day as a proposed referendum to repeal the bill is in the works. If enough signatures are gathered by opponents before the deadline Thursday, the bill will be put in front of voters in November.
"The one thing I'm convinced of, whatever it (July 1) means, there are going to be lawsuits and arbitrations and all kind of things after July 1 that are just going to cost a lot of money in terms of legal expenses," Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan said, adding it's in the best interest of the city to have contracts in place before then.
Along with the raises, the contract would make the city's HSA medical insurance option the primary plan over the PPO option. Employees would continue contributing 10 percent to their health insurance, Bryan said.
Neither council members nor union heads were jumping up and down over the new contracts, Bryan said.
"The employees know this is not a great contract for them, but it's something we've worked on to try to be fair given the economic times," he said this morning.
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• St. Marys OKs natural gas contract
• Celina school district meets all indicators
• Legislation increases fire department personnel
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