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April 30, 2014

New Albany, FOP strike a deal

Settlement resolves dispute dating to 2010

NEW ALBANY — New Albany settled a 2010 contract dispute with the local police union that ended a pending lawsuit and should allow the parties to negotiate a deal for this year.

According to city officials, active officers will receive a $3,500 signing bonus, incentives for higher education and a transfer of salary items toward retirement under the settlement.

In 2012, an arbiter ruled in favor of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99’s claim that NAPD officers were due $300,000 in salary benefits for 2010 through 2012 based on a deal agreed to by former Mayor Doug England.

But Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration challenged the arbiter’s ruling, and the sides were in the midst of legal proceedings before the settlement was reached this week. The union and the city haven’t had an agreed-upon contract since 2009, and the settlement covers 2010 through 2013.

“The city is pleased to have reached this settlement with the FOP,” said Shane Gibson, an attorney with the city’s legal department, in an e-mail sent to the News and Tribune Wednesday evening after the administration was asked about the status of the contract.

“We look forward to working with the FOP to negotiate future contracts.”

The sides have until the end of May to negotiate the 2014 and 2015 contracts or the parties will end up back in arbitration.

“As long as the city gives us plenty of time to meet with them, we’re willing to meet and get it done,” said local FOP President John Hall.

The FOP by voting to accept the deal actually saved the city “a substantial amount of money” by accepting the bonus instead of demanding the additional pay the arbiter had ruled was owed, he continued.

Hall said the deal was offered by the city in late March, but the settlement wasn’t signed by the administration until more than a month later.

New Albany City Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti said the council hadn’t received a copy of the settlement, only a notification that a deal had been achieved.

“I’m pleased that the settlement has been reached to take it out of the court,” she said, though she added she would refrain on commenting about the cost of the deal until she sees the exact numbers.

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