City police, firefighters to be asked to take pay cuts

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana recently said he’s begun discussions with leadership of the city police and fire departments’ unions to renegotiate contracts to reduce salaries.

The concessions Campana is asking the unions to make would be 1 percent salary reductions in their contracts, which provide for a 3 percent salary increase this year.

“We could see about $125,000 saved in police concession and $100,000 in fire (annually),” Campana said.

Union leadership says it will hear the mayor out.

“He has reached out,” said city police Lt. Steven Helm, president of the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 29. “We are giving the administration and opportunity to speak to body of the lodge.”

Meanwhile, at the city fire headquarters on Walnut Street, city Fire Platoon Chief Keith Lucas, the union president of Williamsport Firefighters Local 736, said he also has met with the mayor. Police have two years left in their contract while the firefighters’ runs out this year. Police and fire leadership are willing to listen and to assist should their voting bodies agree.

“If there is a way for us to help out, depending on what the body decides, we may be willing to make that concession,” Helm said. “We will certainly take it into consideration.”

Such a process would not occur overnight, but rather, would take several meetings. Hampering the police currently is a four-officer reduced complement.

“We’re down four officers in the complement from 2018,” Helm said, adding, that’s four fewer officers taking calls, handling incidents.”

Helm emphasized: “It is no commitment but is a discussion that would require the membership vote.”

Firefighters have made similar concessions in the past and are limited by a department of 30 in the union, Lucas said.

Campana said it’s all about getting more money into the savings account.

“My goal is to have them open both contracts on behalf of Williamsport taxpayers,” Campana said.

“The city is in fair financial health, however, I believe we need a larger balance going into next year,” he said.

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