Mayor: Police, city accord avoids layoffs

New London - Negotiations between the city and the police union have yielded a six-point memorandum of agreement that will avoid any layoffs during the next fiscal year and which, paired with other changes, could save the city $500,000 to $1 million, according to the mayor.

The memo, released Tuesday, was signed by city and union officials Thursday and was given to city councilors at a special budget meeting Tuesday night.

"It's the beginning of turning over a new leaf in terms of the administration's relationship with the (police) union," Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

All 10 layoff notices sent to police officers last month are rescinded, per the agreement, and the union agrees to support the city's budget during any referendum. Finizio originally said the 10 layoffs would save the city about $581,000.

The union also has promised to support the position of deputy police chief, a post that has been vacant since January and funding for which the City Council had threatened to withhold.

Peter Reichard started May 21 as deputy chief and he, along with Chief Margaret Ackley, have created a scheduling change that could save the city $500,000 in overtime, Finizio said. That change was implemented Monday, Finizio said, and will be assessed this summer. Details of the scheduling change were not immediately available.

Per the agreement, city Chief Administrative Officer Jane Glover and Todd Lynch, the union president, will "make a concerted effort to resolve all outstanding grievances" and complaints.

Lynch said Tuesday that he and Glover will "work to settle" the more than 40 outstanding complaints and grievances filed by the union. Finizio said those resolutions could save the city upwards of $100,000.

Lynch said he signed the agreement, dated June 14, and that no vote of the union membership was needed because "nothing (in) our current signed contract (with the city) was altered in any way."

"My job was to do what was best for our bargaining unit members and I think there's a fair deal in place that kept 10 officers at work," he said. "That was most important to me."

The agreement also calls for the city to promote a police officer to the rank of captain by July 1 and a second no later than June 30, 2013. The city has had only one captain, Steve Crowley, since January, when veteran captains William Dittman and Michael Lacey retired.

Finizio said further savings could be found if an officer retires or leaves the department. Those positions would most likely be held vacant, he said.

Finizio first announced the layoffs of 10 police officers and 25 firefighters last month after the council approved the first of three readings of its $83 million budget proposal and an 8 percent tax increase.

At the beginning of the budget process, the mayor had proposed an $87 million budget with a 20 percent increase in taxes, which he had said would have preserved all services and jobs.

Last week, Finizio announced that all 35 public safety jobs had been saved through labor negotiations and concessions that created "significant savings" for the city. The fire union is expected to vote on its concessions, which have yet to be made public, on Thursday. Fire union president Rocco Basilica could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

s.goldstein@theday.com

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