The president of the union representing the city's police officers said the contract is fair.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- City officials and police officers will soon be heading back to the bargaining table.
Council members voted during Wednesday's regular meeting to reject a contract that would have given the city's 42 patrol officers 4.5 percent raises each year for three years.
The contract would have also required the city to pay an amount equal to 5 percent of each officer's wage to the state's pension program. That amount would go up to 10 percent of the officer's total wage in 2002.
Council's rejection of the contract means both sides will continue to negotiate. If the two sides cannot agree on a contract, a conciliator will then make a final binding agreement.
Opposing views: "This contract would break the city," said Fred Harris, the city's safety-service director. "There is no way we can afford this. I am disappointed that the police did this. The other unions in the city have asked for 4 percent each year for three years."
Manny Nites, a city police officer and president of the city's chapter of the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said the contract is fair.
"What council is saying is that they want us to serve 50,000 citizens, go out on 35,000 to 40,000 calls a year -- without a complaint -- and do this all for minimum wage," Nites said. "I know that all city jobs are important, but a police officer's job is different than most. And to keep educated officers here, then we must be properly compensated."
Nites added that he doesn't think the contract will cause financial difficulties for the city. He noted that the voters approved a 0.5 percent income tax increase in May that will generate about $4.5 million a year.
Response: City officials said that money was to be used to help hire additional personnel in both the police and fire departments.
"The citizens did not want this money used for raises," Harris said. "I have received calls from residents who are livid because they think council is going to approve this contract."
Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd, said the contract would cost the city about $808,757 over three years. "We just can't afford it," Novak said.