Contract approved for jail employees

MAYVILLE – It was a short meeting Wednesday night for the County Legislature.

After Vince Horrigan, county executive, delivered his State of the County address, legislators moved through the agenda and saved discussion of a labor contract for jail workers for last.

The total cost of the six-year contract is $1.7 million more than the previous contract, does not include retroactive pay increases for 2012-13 and is not is not subject to binding arbitration.

John Runkle, R-Stockton, and other legislators showed concern over the cost of the contract last week in committee meetings, after it was negotiated through the county and CSEA Union Unit 6323.

“For those of you in this room who don’t know, we still have yet to negotiate contracts with some 1,200 county employees and I’m still concerned about where this is going,” Runkle said. “I’m going to be voting no.”

George Borrello, R-Irving, said he was also concerned, and reiterated what he had said at last Wednesday’s Audit and Control Committee meeting.

“This is a difficult time to be talking about raises,” he said. “It’s not that the employees don’t deserve it, but it’s a sign of the times as to whether or not we can afford it.”

Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, also raised questions.

“If we settle with the CSEA for similar amounts for roughly 1,200 CSEA members, we’re looking at $14 million just for CSEA and we still haven’t settled with the two other bargaining units for the county,” he said.

“That’s $16.5-17 million in raises over the next four years. At some point we have to figure out where the money is going to come from. Will it come from capital projects, the fund balance, a 1 percent decrease in each of the county’s appropriations or will we have to raise taxes? It’s something to think about,” Niebel added.

The contract was approved with 12 legislators voting in its favor.

Along with Borrello, Runkle and Niebel, three other legislators voted against the contract: Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; John Hemmer, R-Westfield; and Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia.

Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk, was absent from the meeting.