By Amanda Amsel
The Franklin Township Board of Trustees recently renewed the fire department contracts, but not without a little internal strife.
At a recent meeting, Ron DeLozier, president of the IAFF Local 1441, asked the trustees to approve the new contract.
“Our contract has expired and we are operating on a short term extension,” DeLozier said. “We know there is no room for any increase in anything as far as compensation.”
However, the firefighters did ask for something. They requested that the township stop paying their 8.5 percent pension and instead give them that money in compensation.
“Just to be clear, they are not getting a raise,” said trustee Don Cook. “We would just be paying them what we were paying toward their pension and then they would pay the 8.5 percent toward their pension.”
According to DeLozier, none of the fire department personnel would see this increase in their paychecks because they still have to contribute it to their pension. The only benefit to firefighters would be when they retire because the change would affect their adjusted gross income.
While, Cook and trustee John Fleshman supported the change, trustee Tim Guyton was taken aback by the request.
“I am shocked that this is on the agenda right now. We have only had one negotiation and we had asked you to wait until we get through the budget to see where we are at,” Guyton said. “This change would increase the fire budget by $40,000 a year; I just don’t see where we have that money.”
Guyton also said that a public meeting was the inappropriate place to discuss contract negotiations. Instead, he said it should have been discussed in a closed door session and voted on in public.
“We extended our contract to Feb. 26 and this is where we are at,” DeLozier said. “If a decision is not made, it is going to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.”
DeLozier also discussed how township firefighters have not had a raise since 2009 and yet the township’s firefighters are still willing to stay because of their love for the job.
“I am not disputing that this has never been about the firefighters; it is about money,” Guyton said. “Based on the budget numbers, we do not have an extra $40,000 for the fire department.
If we continue to do things like this we are going to be in the same situation we are in now.”
In the end, Cook and Fleshman renewed the fire union contract with the pension change, while Guyton voted against it.