EMMAUS BOROUGH COUNCIL
Emmaus Borough Council unanimously approved the collective bargaining agreement created with the Emmaus Police Officers Association at the council meeting Oct. 2.
“It’s been a very good negotiation, it’s been very cordial,” Borough Manager Shane Pepe said. “We bent, they bent farther.”
For the first time, police officers will now be paying toward their own health care. The agreement also includes pay raises, which are between 4 and 4.7 percent and increased pension contributions which range between 1.85 and 5 percent. They also are receiving the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which allows officers at the age of retirement to delay their retirement for up to three years.
New police hires will no longer be allowed free health care in their retirement, which is something current officers and their families are eligible to receive.
In regard to the pay increases, Pepe said “with what they’re paying and their contributions, that pay increase is really a net of about 3 percent all the way across the board.”
Pepe said in the short term, they’re paying a little more than they had hoped for, but 15 to 20 years down the road they will be saving the borough millions.
“At the end of the day, what we’re getting back from them is going to save the borough millions and millions of dollars,” Pepe said. “I think long term wise this is the most favorable contract the borough has ever negotiated with the police department.”
Councilman Wesley Barrett praised the contract, calling the “infrastructure and landscape” of the contract quite different than the direction taken with previous contracts. He said the “substantial tweaks and changes” in the contract will greatly help the borough financially down the road.
“Somebody once told me that when both sides feel like they lost, you had a fair contract,” Council President Brent Labenberg said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted, and they didn’t get everything they wanted.”
The five year contract starts Jan. 1, 2018 and ends Dec. 31, 2022.
In other meeting news, council voted 7-0 in favor of hiring Dutchman Contracting for the construction of the public works pole building with a cost of $120,886.
Council voted 6-1 in favor of hiring John Zgura for the consulting service for the concrete of the building with a $13,000 fee. Labenberg voted against this saying he was in support of this project from the beginning stages, but he’s voting no because they will be taking money from the contingency fund.
“We seem to be dipping into the contingency fund a lot and I don’t like doing that,” he stated. “It’s there for a reason. It’s not a slush fund and I think if we really believe in this project, then we should come up with the money elsewhere from our budget and not from the contingency fund.”
Council voted 6-1 in favor of approving the total project cost of $153,173 with Labenberg opposing.
Ordinance 1162 passed its final reading which eliminates parking on portions of the south side of East Minor Street.
Mayor Winfield Iobst declared Oct. 8 to 14 as Fire Prevention Week in Emmaus.
Brittney Stephens was appointed to the Emmaus Arts Commission with a term expiring Feb. 2, 2019.