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Canton police, village hammering out new contract

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By SUSAN MENDE

CANTON - A mediator will likely be asked to help the village and its police union settle a new contract after months of negotiations have failed to produce a new pact.

The Canton Police Association is working under the terms of a three-contract that expired May 31.

Disagreements over pay raises and employee health insurance continue to be the major stumbling blocks, according to Michael A. Richardson, a labor relations consultant hired by the village to assist in negotiations.

“Those are the two key issues,” Mr. Richardson said. “My expectation is that there will be a mediated settlement.”

The two sides have met four times for negotiation sessions.

He said a settlement offer presented by the village July 5 was rejected by the police union’s negotiation team, which is led by Anthony J. Solfaro, president of the New York State Union of Police Associations, Inc.

“My understanding is they’ve received our settlement offer, and they plan to respond with a counter offer,” Mr. Richardson said.

Mr. Solfaro could not be reached for comment.

Once the counter offer has been received, a mediator may be asked to resolve differences.

The members of the police union, including 2.5 dispatchers, three sergeants and four patrolmen, are the only village employees who don’t contribute toward their health insurance costs, an expense that continues to climb.

Not all of the union members take the health insurance benefit. Four police officers and two dispatchers receive the benefit, while the remaining union employees take a buyout payment instead.

Mayor David C. Curry has said it’s not fair to provide the benefit to police officers at no cost when other village employees, including the police chief, are required to chip in between 10 and 20 percent toward their premiums.

Mr. Richardson said negotiators for the police union have been cooperative about looking at ways to reduce the village’s medical expenses, which are covered through Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

“The union has been very receptive at looking at options,” he said. “They’re not being resistant. They’re being cautious.”

The village’s health insurance plan includes prescription coverage and cost the village $20,928 a year for family coverage, $15,162 for two-person families and $7,228 for single coverage.

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