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GIRARD Union president: Safety of public won't suffer



Published: Tue, November 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



City firefighters have been reasonable in dealing with the city, their union leader says.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- The president of the union representing city firefighters says his members will respond to emergencies, even if the city runs out of money.

If there's no money "we'll still do the job," Phil Cretella Jr., president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1220, told city council Monday.

Cretella made his comment in response to a Vindicator editorial in Monday's editions that was critical of comments by safety forces' union leaders that they won't consider job cuts or a salary freeze.

The city is under state-imposed fiscal emergency with a year-end deficit projected at $1 million.

Although Cretella told lawmakers he made the comment, he said the editorial made it appear firefighters are "greedy people." The union leader said his union has been reasonable in labor negotiations with the city.

"We don't feel we have been unreasonable or greedy," Cretella said. "We're here for the residents of Girard."

Cretella said his comment about layoffs and wage freezes was part of an overall ongoing dialog process as ways are sought to cut city costs.

He pointed out the fire department hasn't had a full-time fire chief since March 17. "Our station didn't miss a beat," he asserted.

Frank Rich, city safety and human resources director, told council the police and firefighters have been cooperative and their ideas "have been nothing but beneficial."

The administration's relationship with council and city employees "has never been better."

City income tax: During the meeting, council moved to a second reading of legislation that would update the city's income tax ordinance.

The ordinance hasn't been significantly changed since 1957, said city treasurer John Martin.

One change requires those who estimate their city income tax to pay 221/2 percent per quarter so 90 percent is paid by year's end.

Martin explained it will provide a more even flow of income to the city.

Also, those who withhold income tax from their employees but don't remit it to the city are subject to a 5 percent fine per month.

Measure tabled: In another matter, council did not allow on the agenda legislation that would authorize the service director to advertise for bids to install new computer software in municipal court.

Councilman Reynald Paolone, D-1st, chairman of council's finance committee, said the proposed measure didn't contain specifics.

Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell-Sauline, D-2nd, moved to have the proposal placed on the agenda, but no other lawmaker would second her motion.

Council will have a caucus session at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 to discuss the measure.




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