Criticism over labor contract offends police union leaders

Comments made by Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle about lack of concessions by the police in the l

Comments made by Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle about lack of concessions by the police in the last contract have angered the union’s leadership.

Commenting last week about $50,000 in accumulated unused leave time that will be paid out to former Detective William Gallop, Koetzle said town officials had unsuccessfully tried to reduce the size of these payments in the last labor contract.

Union officials took issue with Koetzle’s statement. Detective William Marchewka, the immediate past president of the Glenville Police Benevolent Association, said the union had offered three years of no increase in salary, a reduction in the sick leave payouts and a giveback of some its compensatory time in exchange for its long-sought goal of paid health care for retired police officers younger than age 55. Marchewka said other police departments of similar size to Glenville have this benefit.

The town has resisted the idea because officials say it is too costly.

In the contract ultimately approved, the union agreed to higher co-pays and salary increases of 2.75 percent for 2010 and 2.25 percent for 2011 and 2012.

Current PBA President Michael Lamb, also a detective with the department, also took issue with Koetzle’s characterization.

“He makes us look like the bad guys when in fact we tried everything we could to make everybody come out of this fairly,” he said.

Marchewka pointed out that the union backed the current Republican-controlled Town Board and its platform of economic development. However, Marchewka criticized the town’s efforts so far, saying that there are parcels on Dutch Meadows Lane near the Walmart that are not yet developed.

The most high-profile project, the redevelopment of the vacant Kmart site on Route 50 into a Target, will increase the demand for police services, according to Marchewka.

Marchewka said he was hoping for more small businesses and locally owned retail shops.

In addition, union officials have pointed out that staffing levels have dropped in the town. The town has six fewer police officers now than it had in 2003. With Gallop’s departure, it has 21 officers but one person is on leave. It is also a dispatcher short, according to Lamb.

Deputy Supervisor Alan Boulant, who owns Solid Surface Craftsman on Freemans Bridge Road, called the comments about economic development irresponsible.

He said that the tough economy has made people cautious but insists that there is interest in Glenville behind the scenes.

A developer is proposing a senior housing project on Dutch Meadows Lane. Other parcels on Freemans Bridge Road have changed hands.

The Target project will spur other growth, according to Boulant, and he asked people to revisit in a year whether the town accomplished its economic development goals. “Once that [Kmart] building goes down, you’re going to see a lot of things starting to pop,” he said.

Koetzle said the cost of offering paid health care to retired officers before the age of 55 was estimated to cost the town $3.1 million through 2024 by one analysis. The health care concessions have saved the town $60,000.

Koetzle said the door is not closed to providing the benefit at some point in the future if there is a way to pay for it.

Categories: Schenectady County

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