The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 21, 2013

Arbitrator could rule soon on Conneaut cop contract

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — An arbitrator is expected to rule soon on the contract negotiations that have stalled between the city of Conneaut and its police union.

This week city administrators and representatives of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51 presented their case to an arbitrator during an hours-long hearing at City Hall. A decision could come in November, City Manager Tim Eggleston said Friday.

Eggleston declined to hazard a guess on the response.

“It’s a toss of the coin,” he said. “I’m just not sure how the gentleman will take the data we presented.”

Police Sgt. Steve Gerics, Lodge 51 president, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Some issues were resolved during the session, but wages remain a sticking point, Eggleston said. Both sides have already stated their cases to a fact-finder, according to a report obtained several weeks ago. The report showed police at that time were seeking a 4.5 percent increase this year, 4 percent in 2014 and 3.5 percent in 2015. The city requested a wage freeze over the next three years, citing a poor financial outlook.

The fact-finder, in his report, suggested pay raises of 4 percent, 3.5 percent and 3 percent over the three-year period.

Talks are also continuing with Local 2182 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We went through mediation, but it wasn’t as productive as I had hoped,” Eggleston said.

Another session will the mediator will be held next month, he said.