(April 19, 2013) The Town of Ocean City finalized its contracts this week with the resort’s public safety unions, but at least one city official has claimed that the town failed to do its research before putting its collective signature on the deals.
“Has anyone else seen these figures prior to tonight?” Councilman Brent Ashley asked his colleagues, regarding a run-down of final contract provisions that was given to the council on the evening of the contracts’ approval vote.
“Maybe not in this exact format, but you’re not seeing anything new here that you haven’t seen before,” retorted City Manager David Recor.
“We were very up-front and came back to the full mayor and council about the parameters we would be working in,” agreed Council President Lloyd Martin, who served on the city’s negotiating team
“But this is the first time the public has seen them, in any form,” Ashley countered. “I can’t support this contract tonight … I would like to make a motion that we postpone the vote on these contracts until the council has had a chance to examine all of the cost information and public has a chance to offer comment.”
Ashley’s motion died for lack of a second, and the council voted 5-1, with Ashley in objection, to approve the contracts. Councilmember Margaret Pillas was absent from this week’s session.
Under the final cost projection provided by the city on Monday night, the resort’s chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters will receive an additional $479,134 in wages over the three years of the contract’s life, versus a situation in which their pay stayed at the rate in the current budget year.
The city’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police will receive $675,391 in increases over the next two fiscal years, after which their contract will be up for re-negotiation.
“We were able to give some increments and two step raises back [that were eliminated in previous budget years],” said Mayor Rick Meehan.
Meehan said the FOP’s total annual wages at the end of the contract’s life will be $5,683,879 – $387,694 less than its 2008-09 budget year payroll, when the Ocean City Police Department was at the historical peak of its manpower and funding.
The FOP represents all non-seasonal sworn officers in the OCPD, up through the rank of sergeant.
The new contract will have the FOP receive an incremental increase – based on a multi-step table of officers’ rank and years of experience – at the onset of the 2014 fiscal year this July. Halfway through the coming budget year, in January 2014, all those officers who were eligible for a raise in 2010 but did not receive one due to budget cuts will receive another increment.
At the beginning of FY15, in July of next year, officers who did not receive their scheduled raise in 2011 will be granted one. In January of 2015, another incremental increase will be granted to the entire workforce.
For the IAFF, which represents all full-time, non-volunteer members of the Ocean City Fire Department up through the rank of lieutenant, an organization-wide increment will be granted at the beginning of this fiscal year, and another in January of 2014. Further increases will be given at the beginning of FY15 and FY16.
Additionally, the OCFD’s rank structure will be simplified to consolidate the ranks of 2nd lieutenant and lieutenant into a single position, with a new pay scale that is between that of the two obsolete ranks. All current 2nd lieutenants will be promoted to the new position. The old lieutenant’s pay scale will continue to exist for those who are already “full” lieutenants.
“I know when you pay that tax bill every year, it’s a tough thing to do,” said IAFF Mike Maykrantz. “But if you’ve ever had to use our service, you see that your investment comes back to you.”
The IAFF’s new contract also concedes a number of scheduling rights to the city. Under the new labor agreement, new OCFD hires can be assigned to any combination of shifts, as long as their hours stay consistent over periods of four weeks.
Under the old agreement – still applicable to current IAFF members – fire and EMS personnel had to be scheduled using a 24 hours on-duty, 72 hours off-duty cycle.
“We wanted to change those provisions because we wanted to give management more flexibility, so we modified that to where they could be assigned to any shift,” Meehan said. “We’ll be able to work better for the scheduling of the whole department.”
The contract also codifies the OCFD’s procedure for back-filling vacant shifts due to sickness or emergency. Part-time personnel who will not incur overtime must be utilized first, followed by full-time personnel who are on their off-week with fewer shifts. This will reduce cost to the department by cutting overtime pay for higher-earning employees.