Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

March 20, 2013

City, union reach agreement

By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express

Knoxville — The Knoxville City Council approved a new contract Monday night with PPME Local 2003, which represents 23 union-eligible workers under the City’s employ, which, if ratified by the union, will be good for the next two years.

The contract provides a 2.5 percent pay increase for each member of the bargaining unit for each of the next two years. This is less than what the union had originally sought, but steward Randy Puyear is satisfied with the agreement.

“As far as I was concerned, everything was good,” Puyear said. The union will vote on the contract Monday, and Puyear is confident that it will pass.

“As far as the City’s concerned, we think it’s a fair negotiation,” City Manager Harold Stewart said.

Figures provided by Assistant City Manager Dylan Feik show that the monetary impact of the raises will be $31,106 in Fiscal Year 2014, and $62,990 in Fiscal Year 2015. These figures include increases in IPERS, FICA and police and fire retirement plans. Puyear and Stewart agree that the other changes to the agreement, including an increase in annual boot allowance, are helpful and not unreasonable.

Stewart added that the City felt 2.5 percent raises were fair, as employees will receive raises regardless of performance. Non-union employees, including management, usually average 3 percent raises which are based upon performance.

Other council notes:

• Approved the appointments of Bryan Schlotterback and Ron Huelse to the Recreation Commission. Discussion was held as well regarding the combination of the Recreation Commission and the Parks Advisory Board. Stewart said these bodies will meet to discuss this possibility and report back to the city council what their recommendations are.

• Appointed Richard Randol to the Water Board.

• Approved garbage hauler licenses for Waste Connections, Midwest Sanitation, ABS Sanitation, Waste Management of Iowa and Brown’s Sanitation.

• Approved a Class “C” Liquor License for Banchi Boys Pizza and Pasta.

• Approved a Special Event Application for First Assembly of God Church.

• Approved new probationary Fire/Rescue members Amanda Flattery and Jason Spencer.

• The Library Board updated the council regarding its expansion project. Among the plans for the library is the creation of a foundation and making upgrades to facilities to mitigate possible hazards with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Marion County recently submitted a hazard mitigation plan to FEMA, which included the City of Knoxville, which opens fund availability for mitigation projects. The library held a discussion Tuesday night, seeking input regarding facility improvements.

• Approved a plan to purchase fuel for City vehicles through WEX. The City was approached by a local businessman about becoming the sole provider of fuel for City vehicles at a discounted rate. City staff explored options and found WEX, which will provide discounts and tax rebates to the City for fuel purchases. WEX cards can be used at any gas station as well.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance to repeal a scheduled 5 percent rate increase in sewer bills. This increase was scheduled to happen on July 1, but it will not be necessary, due to several changes in how the City doe business, all of which resulted in savings to the rate payers. For example, the City eliminated a position, sold equipment which we no longer make annual payments, obtained cheaper contractors for several items, and many other things, according to Assistant City Manager Dylan Feik. The ordinance will come back for second and third readings.

• A special work session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26, at 6:15 p.m. The next regular meeting will be Monday, April 1, at 6:15 p.m.