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New contract for Canton police requires health insurance payments

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CANTON - A new contract agreement between the village and the Canton Police Association requires village police officers to contribute toward their health insurance premiums for the first time.

“The village felt strongly about getting a contribution to health insurance and we were successful at getting that contribution,” Mayor Mary Ann Ashley said.

However, she said, other village employees are paying between 10 and 15 percent toward their health insurance, and she was disappointed the arbitrator did not require a greater contribution from the police.

“We were hoping to get in alignment with what the other employees were paying,” the mayor said.

Eventually, she said, the goal is to have all employees contributing 25 percent because the cost of health insurance continues to escalate.

Canton Police Association President James Santimaw, a sergeant in the department, could not be reached for comment.

The three-year agreement was decided by Dennis J. Campagna, the arbitrator assigned to write a binding agreement between the village and its eight-member police union.

The contract is retroactive and covers June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2014. It requires members of the police association who take the insurance benefit to contribute 6.5 percent toward the cost of the monthly health insurance program.

Each month, the village pays $2,248 for those on a family health insurance plan, $1,629 for two-person and $776 for individual plans. Starting pay for a village police officers is $40,799 a year. The department’s three sergeants are at the top of the pay scale, earning $66,584 a year.

The two side reached a stalemate earlier this year after mediation failed to settle their differences. The next step was binding arbitration which means both sides agree to abide by the arbitrator’s ruling.

Under the new pact, employees will be paid 3 percent retroactive raises in their base pay for 2011, 2012 and 2013. Lump payments are supposed to be given out within the next 30 days and will vary depending on an officer’s base pay.

The village has set aside $100,000 in its budget to cover the retroactive payments for raises, but Village Clerk Sally A. Noble still has to calculate what portion will be disbursed.

“We don’t expect it to hit that, but we have to be prepared,” Mrs. Noble said.

The new agreement also requires employees to work a minimum of 15 years, full time, in order to receive health insurance through the village in retirement.

The new contract only extended until June 1, so it’s already outdated. That means the two sides will once again have to start negotiating another contract.

“I’m very hopeful it won’t take as long to settle the next contract,” Ms. Ashley said.

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