New London OKs three-year police contract

New London - The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a new three-year contract with police, but held off funding the contract.

By a 6-0 vote, the council also voted to refer the request to transfer $425,000 from a contingency account to the council's finance committee for closer review. The money is needed to fund salaries and benefits associated with the contract. Councilor Anthony Nolan, a New London police officer, recused himself from both votes.

Earlier in the meeting, Councilor Michael Passero asked that any items drawing money from the city's contingency fund should go to the finance committee "to have discussion and see if we are overdrawn." Council members agreed.

Council President Wade Hyslop said the move would allow the council to gather more information and expected it would vote on the funding at its next meeting.

Both Hyslop and Passero thanked the city administration and union for signing an agreement that would help move the department forward. Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio had taken over negotiations following ongoing friction between the union and currently suspended police Chief Margaret Ackley.

The contract calls for a phased series of raises through 2016 and an extra day off for patrol officers every two weeks, a schedule of five days on and two days off, followed by five days on and three days off. Officers give up a raise for the fiscal year that passed since a contract was signed but are to get two 1 percent raises in the current fiscal year and two 1.5 percent raises by Jan. 1, 2016.

The extra $425,000 needed to cover salaries and benefits for the current fiscal year will be followed by a request of an estimated $450,000 in the upcoming year, according to the mayor's office.

The agreement came following a year of often heated rhetoric from the union calling Ackley the source of many problems at the department and the reason dozens of union grievances were filed over the past several years. Finizio, at the time he signed the contract, also signed a settlement with the union in which it would withdraw many of those grievances and potentially save the city money in litigation costs.

Finizio suspended Ackley while the city investigates allegations of her interference in union business, misrepresentation of budget figures and targeting union members for discipline, among other allegations.

Union President Officer Todd Lynch said he was thankful for the council's vote of support.

"We have a solid contract. Now we can move forward to concentrate on other matters," Lynch said. "We hope the city now focuses on much-needed manpower."

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

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