I had the privilege of visiting the City of Kingston Finance Committee this Monday night. Chaired by Charlie Landi, the agenda featured the KPFF as the main attraction as the city budget talks continue.
Once again, the subject of deferring their contractual raises that were deferred last year, one more time. I dont think it's going to happen this time. The President of the FireFighters 461, Tom Tiano, sat in the hot-seat for the duration of the interrogation.
Although a prior vote of his membership indicated that they weren't willing to revisit such an act heading into 2011, he did open the door to one proposal that developed in the meeting. An idea of staggering the implementation of the impending raise in steps during the course of the year.
Another key element to the negotiation was the proposal made by the Mayor and discussed with members of the County Executive's office pertaining to merging the emergency dispatch duties between the two municipalities. Bringing one or more employees from the City and placing them in the county 9-1-1 Emergency system.
The big problem lies in the personnel area, in that the contractual obligations and retirement packages have to be compatible or at least sweetened through other means. Thats if the unions even deem the merger in their best interest.
Tom helped paint the picture of complicated negotiations between the parties should the Council and Executive engage the move. When asked, I told the committee that although the Legislative body was barely aware of the depth of the negotiation, I had heard the leadership was eager to get the merger done.
Chairman Landi had heard the same thing. He and Hayes Clement said they had conversation with Executive Hein on the merger issue and got the same positive feedback as the Legislative Majority and Minority leadership.
Whether the proposal makes it as a shift in both budgets heading into the final days of both of our cycles, remains to be seen.
Executive Hein has yet to place someone from the current test list into the open position pending direction from the Common Council.
How the new form of 9-1-1 dispatch will affect the city and the 6,000 calls we get annually will be the true test of the new system. Remember, thats just the calls for the Fire Department. KPD handles almost double that annually.
Can one dispatch employee handle almost 20,000 additional calls and still keep the City of Kingston and the rest of the county safe at the level we feel today? I'm not sure.
Might consider having yet another dispatch employee on duty once the shift is implemented and the probation period is evaluated.
And might I say, the issue of giving the CityBus routes to UCAT never came up. Damn!