Monday, January 29, 2007

Negotiations at the speed of snail

Remember a month ago when hundreds of police officers picketed City Hall, signs in hand, pleading for more cooperation and fair salaries?

And remember when City Manager George Kolb was on every newscast in town telling taxpayers that they'd either see reduced city services or a tax increase if the police get what they want?

Well, it's been pretty quiet since -- all the salaries are stagnant and so are taxes. Since the PD and city issued a joint press release saying they wouldn't continue to vent their frustrations and roll out worst case scenarios at each other in the media, the issue has been publicly calm.

Sgt. Chester Pinkston, the union president, tells The Hall Monitor that the city is inching its offer up, little-by-little. But apparently not enough...

"We're still not near a settlement," Pinkston said.

"But we're still optimistic," he followed. "It's just moving at a snail's pace, unfortunately."

History shows that's often the way these things go.

Meanwhile, the fire department's union is in waiting. The city backed out their most recent meeting because one of their players couldn't make the meeting, Doug Pickard, president of the firefighters' union, said.

"We're just kind of treading water," he said.

It's not clear how the two contracts fit together, but, according to press release the city handed out in mid-December, "Any contract with this group (being the police) for more than the budgeted 2 percent will further increase pressure for a tax increase or reduction in other services."

Not exactly a pleasant scenario for city leaders in an election season where most of the 26 candidates out there are repeating the mantra of lower taxes, increased public safety and fiscal constraint.

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