The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 12, 2012

Geneva city, police near agreement

GENEVA —  Despite an unsuccessful mediation, Geneva City Manager Jim Pearson said the deal between Geneva and the local police union is almost inked.

“A formal fact-finding hearing is tentatively scheduled for April 26,” Pearson said. “We scheduled the fact-finding, even though the first thing we wanted to do was mediate before the hearing. So we spent that first day in mediation and we thought we were really close to a solution.”

“We still haven’t ruled out a solution before the fact-finding, but we are still working on it,” he said.

A fact-finding hearing is a process of a judicial or administrative proceeding to determine the facts to decide a controversy.

Pearson said officials may call off the fact-finding hearing if an agreement is struck before April 26.

“We can and may call it off if we get this deal settled, and we are very close,” he said. “Traditionally, we absolutely do very well in negotiations with the union. We have a long history with the unions and we have made a lot of agreements over the years.”

Pearson said no matter the outcome of the negotiations or the fact-finding investigation, safety forces, including police and fire, cannot strike.

“The right to strike is replaced by binding arbitration, where if we don’t agree we are bound into an agreement judicially,” Pearson said. “But we don’t think that is going to happen, at least I hope not. I am really hopeful that we won’t even have to go to the fact-finding. We really are that close to this deal.”

Pearson said the safety forces are the city’s largest expenditure in the yearly budget. The police department is the biggest slice of the municipal budget pie with $1.4 million of the city’s $3.2 million general fund dollars.

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