PEORIA — The Peoria City Council approved a settlement with the union that represents the city’s firefighters that will allow one of the fire houses that was to be closed to remain open for six months.
The vote, 9-1 with Councilman Zach Oyler voting no, involved Local 50 dropping an unfair labor practice grievance it had filed against the city two years ago in return for the city keeping House 20 open.
Also part of the settlement was an agreement to have no layoffs through March 30. Earlier this fall, the city shuttered two fire houses as a way to close a budget hole created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local 50 had won on the appellate level but agreed to give up the $500,000 judgment it got in return for the fire house, which covers the far north portion of the city, open.
That judgment is roughly the cost of keeping a fire house and its accompanying truck open for about six months.
City Hall would also have to keep 44 union spots for each shift. If that wasn’t possible with the existing personnel, then it would have to be filled through overtime.
The suit stemmed from an agreement made between the firefighters and the city in 2017 in the wake of “brownouts” that were instituted to help close a budgetary shortfall. Local 50 cried foul and said the brownouts were an unfair labor practice as the agreement eliminated some unfilled positions in return for keeping the fire apparatus online.
In other news, the council heard from Assisant Public Works Director Sie Maroon about how the city will deal with snow this year. The gist of the 40-minute presentation was that it’ll take longer as public works had its budget cut due to the pandemic as well.
Instead of having a 2- to 6-inch snowfall cleared in 24 hours, the goal is now 36 hours. There are 17 snow routes now, not 21. Maroon said no streets were dropped, but routes were made longer.
The council also voted to hold the salaries of elected officials the same for the next four years. The vote was required by state law and is to make sure that elected officials don’t set their own pay while they are in office. Tuesday’s vote will take effect after the April election.
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