Binghamton City Council Approves Firefighter Contract
10/3/2012 (Updated 11:41:33 PM)(Source: Jeremy Donovan)
BINGHAMTON -- The new contract, approved Wednesday evening, between the firefighters and the City of Binghamton has been in the works for months. Approval from the city council was unanimous. Council members feel it's a win-win.
"For the firefighters, it allows them to plan individually where they want to be in five years," said Bill Berg, 7th District. "On the flip side we'll know what we need to allocate for funding and staffing. So it's a nice balance for both sides."
"It's stability, it tells us where we are. It gives us a baseline to work from, we don't have to anticipate what raises might be," said Council President Terri Rennia, 3rd District.
When initially presented with the contract, members of city council saw the benefits for both the firefighters and the City of Binghamton. But after initial review, not every member of city council was on board.
"We don't know what's going to happen five years from now, or tomorrow," said Chris Papastrat, 5th District. "So my initial reaction is, do we want to commit to that long of a period without knowing what our tax base is going to be 2-3 years from now."
But tonight, Papastrat joined other council members in passing the contract
Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan called this year's budget the toughest of his administration. With past instances of putting off payments until later years does a contract like this cause any concerns regarding future budgets?
"We're trying to have a bright outlook for the future," said Berg. "If we get the rug pulled out from us again, we have to deal with it."
With the police officers in the midst of their own contract talks, there is also concern that other unions could use this contract as a precedent.
"It's possible that other unions can see that and say, we can do that. but that's up to the administration," said Papastrat.
With the only change from the previous contract being an increase in employee contribution to health care, Rennia says the real winners are the taxpayers.
"It has nothing to do with the contract," she says. "It has to do with the fact that we have a very professional, I would say, the best fire department in the area."
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