City to vote on $50K for PR agency to manage firefighters referendum
Firefighters say recruiting volunteers costly
GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council is planning to vote on a resolution Tuesday night that would see it transfer funds to a public relations account to pay for a firm that would manage a potential November referendum.
The council is considering transferring $50,000 from its contingency fund to a public relations fund during Tuesday’s meeting.
The money would be used to pay for a marketing firm to manage a referendum that would change the makeup of the fire department to include fewer members and introduce volunteers to the department.
The union and council have been in negotiations on a new contract since October. In January, the council agreed to introduce a referendum in November if an agreement was not reached with the union by the end of February.
In February, the council rejected a contract they said did not include enough savings. The city has said it wants to see $1.2 million in savings over the course of the contract, reducing the size of the department from 28 to 24 and switching the health insurance set up that currently sees increases in premium costs only when firefighters get a raise. The city also wants to go to a five-person minimum staffing instead of the current seven.
The union counters that there are a number of firefighters over age 50 who could retire in the next several years. The department has stated that offer would result in around $300,000 in savings. Additionally, they stated there are no up-front costs to the contract, after removing all stipends and all retroactive pay from the proposal.
The city presented a counter offer to the union on Feb. 24. The union is seeking mediation with the city in regard to the contract through the Public Employee Relations Board.
The Gloversville Firefighters Association, Local 719, alleges, in a letter sent Sunday, that the city has not considered the cost of recruiting and retaining volunteers, or whether the city and surrounding communities have the appropriate number of potential volunteers to meet the demands of the job.
The city has stated in the past that its mutual aid agreements with other departments, including Johnstown, as well as some career firefighters is enough to cover the city for emergencies.
Mayor Dayton King could not be reached for comment this morning.
The Common Council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the council chambers at City Hall.
Kerry Minor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.