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Scotia eyes fire pact

The village of Scotia is in the middle of negotiating a fire department employee contract, and after a special village board of trustees meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5, focusing on the contract, the issue remained undecided.

According to the proposed union contract, the village would pay the full monthly premium for individual, two-person or family medical insurance coverage for retirees hired before July 1, 1999.

Trustee Armon Benny said at an earlier meeting that he estimates the free health care for life for eligible retirees would cost village taxpayers close to $1 million.

"Be assured, I wasn't the only board member to heed to the financial advice of our treasurer and the legal advice of our attorney, who told us this would be a terrible deal for Scotia," said Benny.

The fire department's contract proposal also includes a continuation of the 2.9 percent salary increase per year, up to 2008. Shift reassignment is another issue discussed in the contract, as the department has been criticized for using excessive overtime in the past.

"The negotiations talks led to some concerns and unanswered questions within the proposal," said Kris Kastberg, a trustee assigned to working on the negotiations and Independent party candidate for mayor.

Mayor Mike McLaughlin, who will not be seeking re-election, declined to talk about the negotiations, saying discussing contract information is highly inappropriate.

At a village board meeting last month, Benny called the fire department "mismanaged."

"I feel as though decisions are rushed, decisions I'm not comfortable with, especially given the department's issues," said Benny.

Another meeting about the topic is expected to be scheduled soon said Katsberg. He said fire Chief Ken Almy was on vacation at the time of the latest discussion, and that talks will continue.

"I'm confident we will be able to work out a fair contract," said Katsberg.""

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