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St. Lawrence County negotiating union contracts

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County hopes to soon put to rest contract negotiations with its largest union.

The 750 members of Civil Service Employees Association have until 4:30 p.m. Friday to vote on an offer that would cover 2012 through 2014. If approved, the proposal would go to the Board of Legislators for review Oct. 1.

“Getting it settled is absolutely a priority for us because we’ll have a knowledge of our costs,” Legislative Chairwoman Sallie A. Brothers, D-Norfolk, said.

Members of the Sheriff’s Benevolent Association, which represents 23 road deputies, already have approved an offer that legislators will consider Oct. 1. If approved, that contract would cover 2010 through 2014.

Mrs. Brothers declined to offer any details about the proposals.

“These are difficult times we’re going through. Both parties need to be aware of how difficult those times are,” she said. “Until the board votes, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on it.”

From the outset, union members were told not to expect a salary increase for 2012.

“We did not budget for it,” county Human Resources Director Christopher S. Boulio said. “Our position with all of our bargaining units was that there would be no raises for 2012.”

The coming year is shaping up to be even more difficult financially as the county expects to have a fund balance of less than $2 million, a potential property tax increase of up to 18.5 percent or massive cuts in staff. County Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire has asked legislators to consider a third option under which the county keeps one-third of the sales tax it distributes to towns and villages.

Mr. Boulio declined comment on any provisions contained in the contract proposal, as did CSEA President Amy J. Simmons.

CSEA Local 1000, employees of the Solid Waste Department, agreed to accept whatever was negotiated with its larger counterpart.

The county’s other unions are Council 82, which represents 62 officers at the jail, and the county Sheriff’s Supervisory Association, which represents six sergeants.

The contract with Council 82 expired Dec. 31, 2011. Several meetings have taken place but an agreement is not imminent.

The Sheriff’s Supervisory Association, a newly formed unit, has met three times with county representatives.

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