Salamanca firefighters’ union contract approved

The Salamanca Common Council held its regular meeting Wednesday, approving the city firefighters' union contract among other business.

SALAMANCA — The city firefighters’ union has a new contract in place following several months of negotiations.

The Common Council at its regular meeting Wednesday approved the Salamanca Professional Fire Fighters Association AFL-CIO Local Union 2501 contract, effective April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2024.

Before approving it, council members discussed some areas of question in the contract.

Councilwoman Janet Koch, D-Ward 5, noted that the original wage scale was going to have a 2% increase in each of the next two years to match the Department of Public Works, but that it had been changed to a 4% increase in 2021 and a 3% increase in 2022.

“I’m not saying I have a problem with it, but I know what we talked about before so I wanted to bring it up,” she said.

Mayor Sandra Magiera said the union originally asked for 4% increases every year because the city firefighters’ pay does not compare well to other area departments. She said the city has been losing a lot of firefighters leaving for better paying jobs and the union suggested higher increases to help keep more firefighters in the city.

“We are low compared to a lot of places, and that was my logic. It wasn’t to hurt the city any,” the mayor said. “That’s the reason I agreed to it.”

Councilman Paul Myers, D-Ward 4, said the police department had similar high turnover rates several years ago that the fire department is experiencing now so he was okay with the increase.

“I don’t have a problem with this, other than we have to answer to other departments,” added Councilman John “Jack” Hill, D-Ward 1.

Councilman Barry Smith, I-Ward 3, wondered about language saying the department could hire, fire and transfer firefighters, among other actions, and if it goes against a local law that the council has the authority to do those. It was noted that the local law would supersede the contract and the fire commission would still recommend that action to the council.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council accepted a proposal from Hunt Engineers, Architects & Land Surveyors (HUNT) for general engineering services to the city for one year.

The council had expressed frustration with working with the previous engineers and suggested opening up the opportunity to work with a different firm.

City Clerk Tracy Chamberlain said the city can still bid out a job and not work exclusively with HUNT if the council wishes to.

HUNT was also approved as the engineer for the Veterans Memorial Park stone archway repair project with the low bid of $9,850.

It was noted that HUNT had worked with the Salamanca school district on the recent renovation project in Vets Park and was aware of the issues with the archway.

ALSO OF NOTE, the council approved:

Appointing Jamie Deck as Provisional Police Chief, contingent on passing the Civil Service test, effective May 28, 2021;

A lease agreement for the second floor apartment at 18 Main St., above the senior center, between the city and Eric and Tina Hice;

The Crowley Park concession agreement between the Salamanca Youth Football Clubs and the city; and

Accepting the proposal from Commercial Acceptance Company, Debt Recovery Consultants, of Camp Hill, Pa., for bad debt collection services of ambulance billing.