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Council ratifies new I.U.O.E. labor contract

Friday, May 13, 2011

Insurance adjuster tours City buildings damaged by hail

The Cherokee City Council Tuesday night ratified the labor contract with municipal employees of the I.U.O.E. (International Union of Operating Engineers) Local 234.

In negotiating a three-year contract that went to final arbitration, the parties (City and employees) agreed to maintain the current health insurance plan, and in consideration of maintaining that plan, employees covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement shall receive a 1-percent across the board (ATB) wage increase effective in the pay period following the ratification of the new Agreement.

Additional wage increases also will be applied moving forward in the three-year contract, including 3-percent ATB on July 1, 2011; 3-percent ATB on Jan. 1, 2012; 2.75-percent ATB on July 1, 2012; and 3-percent ATB on July 1, 2013.

As for insurance coverage, employees will pay 5-percent of the difference between dependent coverage and single coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2012; 10-percent of the difference between dependent and single coverage on July 1, 2012; and 15-percent of the difference between dependent and single coverage July 1, 2013.

Also Tuesday night, the Council approved the second presentation and waived the third presentation of an ordinance establishing the street grade of elevations along portions of North 11th Street for that street's pending reconstruction project that pigtails with the ongoing West Cherry Street reconstruction project, involving new water/sewer utilities, concrete, driveway approaches, curb and gutter, and sidwalks where applicable.

Among consent business, the Council approved a $139,895 payment to Godbersen-Smith Construction Co. for work under way on West Cherry Street.

The Council also set May 24 as the Public Hearing to amend the 2010-2011 budget. Each year, the City amends its annual budget to recognize expenditures and revenues that were not anticipated when the budget was adopted. As an example, the current FY budget was adioted in March 2010, prior to the tornado and other storms that hit Cherokee last summer, inflicting damage on municipal facilities and infrastructure.

An insurance adjuster also toured City facilities - mainly those south of the Little Sioux River - in the wake of the recent storms that inflicted hail damage. Most City buildings in that sector, including the airport, park, water and wastewater facilities, incurrd damage from the storms.

Once the City receives the adjuster's summary findings, the City can proceed to get estimates for each building to be repaired and submit said costs to the insurance carrier. Provided such costs are within the adjuster's estimate, 100-percent of the repair costs will be covered.

City Recreation Director Dave Ellis also advised the Council that the Bacon Aquatic Center pool will be filled this weekend.

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Let the Good Times Roll

If you are a city employee, the recent raises you were granted were cause for celebration. If you are a taxpayer,well, not so much.

By my calculations this amounts to a 13.4 percent wage increase in a span of two years. This means a city employee who earns $40,000 now will end up with $45,360.37. Someone making $60,000 gets an $8,040 increase during that same time period.

I did not bother to factor in the health insurance segment. The article was so poorly written, this section was basic gibberish to me. One can assume the taxpayer did not come out ahead on this section either. We never do. My apologies ahead of time if I am proven wrong on this part. Maybe the employees actually will have to pay up more for their health coverage. Don't bet your favorite pet on this point, however.

I am dumbfounded by this decision. Evidently no one takes into account the demographics of this town. Did anyone along the decision making path stop to consider the economic times we live in?

They will tell you all kinds of reasons for allowing this: We have to be competitive; Our employees work hard and deserve it; They haven't had a decent raise in eons. We need taxes to pay for important needed services.

But we have reached the point where it no longer matters what the takers of taxes want; it only matters what we, the taxpayers are able to pay. We are tapped out. We are frustrated. We are angry.

Unless you are willing to accept this premise, expect your wallet to get lighter each and every year. There will be no letter to the editor from any city employee thanking you for this largesse. Look for several to castigate me (and you) for having the audacity to push back, however.

Finally, here is a Fox News flash for you. Remember, no matter how much they demand and take from you, it will never be enough. Ever.

Russell Becker

736 West Cedar

Cherokee, IA (225-2092)

-- Posted by rrbecker on Sat, May 14, 2011, at 4:59 PM

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