(by Rachel Scofield, staff writer - April 19, 2009)
The Fraternal Order of Police and the city of Bexley have reached an agreement for a new contract.
The officers want their money immediately, but the council sees no need to rush.
If approved, the contract will provide the officers with a 3 percent raise each of the next three years.
At the April 14 meeting, council approved the second reading of the ordinance with the final reading scheduled for April 28.
"A couple of officers asked me, 'what are we waiting for?'" City Attorney Lou Chodosh said. "The raise will be retroactive to Jan. 1 - they are waiting for their retroactive checks."
With most ordinances, council discusses the issue in three consecutive meeting. Then, if approved, the ordinance takes effect 30 days later.
Council may "suspend" the rules and pass an ordinance in one meeting. Furthermore, if members declare the ordinance an "emergency," the ordinance takes effect immediately rather than waiting the 30 days.
The three-reading process enables residents the opportunity to object to a proposed ordinances before the council approves it into law.
"Residents could make the point 'what's another two weeks?'," Councilman Mark Masser said. "You made your bed now sleep in it. They prolonged (the contract negotiations)."
Mayor John Brennan agreed with Masser.
"It's a little bit of hardship," Brennan said. "Two weeks won't kill them and they will receive a nice, healthy check."
Police Chief Larry Rinehart said officers have said, "'In the past, once the union passed (the agreement), the council passed it by emergency.' Now they are getting scared and think things went wrong."
But Chodosh said it's a breakdown in communication.
"Their people are not keeping them informed, and that's not your problem," Chodosh told Rinehart. "They can wait two more weeks."
The new contract also will clarify procedures for filing grievances and internal reviews.
An incentive program that rewards officers with additional pay for completing fitness goals also will take effect.
The contact is "very competitive with other cities such as Dublin, Upper Arlington and Hilliard," Chodosh said. "I am very comfortable with how it ended. It is truly amazing what our police do and 99.9 percent of our citizens don't know about it. They are not just riding around in a car. This contract will keep the police force as good as it's been."