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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Borough, police reach contract agreement

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  • HONESDALE - Bargaining representatives of borough council and Honesdale's police union have agreed to a seven-year contract for the five full-time officers.
    The contract was signed Friday night by council President James Brennan, council finance chair Scott Smith and union representatives Sgt. Ronald Kominski and Patrolman Keith Colombo.
    The third bargaining representative of the borough, Robert Jennings, refused to sign the contract.
    The councilman said he refused to sign it in part because he thinks seven years is too long and the contract should be no longer than four years.
    Jennings also said he had a problem with the rank structure.
    Structure issue
    In a collective bargaining proposal submitted in March 2013, the police union had asked for the structure to include a police chief, lieutenant, sergeant, patrol officer first class or regular patrolman But the approved contract had an additional officer, a second sergeant.
    Smith, however, said that council had voted last year to add a second sergeant.
    Jennings said, "But now it's in the contract forever," noting the police union will never give up the second sergeant position.
    Brennan and the two bargaining representatives of the police union, Kominski and Colombo, could not be reached for comment.
    The contract agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year and runs through Dec. 31, 2020.
    Smith said he was happy with the contract, noting how it was worked on for about a year and both sides made compromises.
    Contract decoded
    The contract states an officer hired on or after Jan. 1 will be subject to the following salary structure for the first five years of employment: a starting salary of $39,000 annually, or $18.75 per hour, with an increase of 3 percent over the annual raise.
    Page 2 of 3 - All regular, full-time civil service members of the force will receive an annual salary increase of 3 percent for 2014-15, 3.25 percent for 2016-17 and 3.5 percent from 2018-20.
    Active officers also will make a flat 1.5 percent contribution of their gross pay, per pay period, toward the premium cost of their major medical coverage over the course of the contract.
    Multiple council members have said, despite no increase over the span of the contract, the contribution is a step in the right direction because the full-time officers previously paid only $10 per pay period toward insurance. That equaled $260 per officer, per year.
    The 1.5 percent will be paid from the officers' combined gross pay, shift differential and overtime pay.
    Police chief position
    The borough currently has no police chief, but rather a commissioner, former FBI agent Rick Southerton. He is scheduled to soon receive his Act 120, which would allow him to work as a municipal officer in Pennsylvania.
    The contract reads in part, "The appointment of the Chief of Police shall be filled at the sole and exclusive discretion of the Borough, but on a reasonably timely basis to ensure appropriate administration of the police department. The borough shall have through July 1, 2014, to fill the existing vacancy of Chief of Police."
    The borough currently has five full-time officers, Colombo, Kominski, Robert Langman, Sean LeStrange and Donald Thacher.
    Those officers get a base pay of about $35,000 each, plus health insurance, fringe benefits and overtime pay.
    According to the contract in regard to overtime pay: "All police personnel working more than 40 hours in any week shall be paid at the rate of time and one-half for all hours worked over 40."
    In regard to sick leave: "Each officer shall accumulate sick leave at the rate of 15 days per year to a maximum of 120 days accumulated sick leave (if unused). The borough shall pay each officer a bonus at a rate of 50 percent of base pay per day for unused sick leave over 120 days. In the event an officer is off more than three consecutive days sick leave, he shall present a written document attesting to the fact that he was ill and unable to work."
    Page 3 of 3 - All included, the five officers are scheduled to receive a combined $319,747 in 2014; that number would increase to $389,264 in 2020, according to the contract.
    Over their years of service, the current full-time officers have accrued $131,296.13 in unused vacation, sick, personal and holiday hours, according to borough records.
    For example, if 13-year veteran Colombo were to leave the employment of the borough at the end of the year he would receive a payout of $30,638, according to records.
    That would be in addition to his one-year wage with benefits, shift differential and overtime pay ($67,975) for a for a total of $98, 614.
    According to records, Colombo has accrued 320 unused vacation hours, 832 unused sick hours, 16 unused personal hours and 80 unused holiday hours.
    LeStrange has 13 years of service, Kominski 11, Langman 10 and Thacher nine.
    Kominski has accumulated $17,504 in combined unused vacation hours (360), sick hours (249), personal hours (32) and holiday hours (72).
    Langman has accrued $27,452 in combined unused vacation hours (272), sick hours (760), personal hours (32) and holiday hours (88).
    LeStrange has accrued $26,533 in combined unused vacation hours (160), sick hours (786), personal hours (32) and holiday hours (72).
    Thacher has accrued $29,167 in combined unused vacation hours (296), sick hours (824), personal hours (16) and holiday hours (88).
    The contract says "... as of January 1, 2014, a maximum accumulation and subsequent payment of sick leave of 150 days."
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