City council to vote on agreement with FOP related to MAPS 3 use tax 

The Oklahoma City Council will vote on Tuesday on a collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police that keeps in place much of the existing agreement.

The few changes that are in the agreement include adjustments to monthly insurance premiums to reflect increased health care costs, and a drug and alcohol testing policy for all commissioned officers. The remaining parts of the contract roll over most of the provisions set forth in the FOP's 2009-2010 contract, according to city records.

The proposed contract, which was approved by FOP Lodge 123 on Nov. 26, is about $1.3 million more than the previous year, for a total of around $96 million.

FAIR 'USE'?
The police and fire unions clashed with supporters of the MAPS 3 proposal last year. Because the proposal did not include provision to fund public safety, the unions organized a campaign for the defeat of MAPS 3.

Shortly before the proposal was put before voters, city officials said part of a MAPS 3 use tax would go toward funding public safety. Use taxes are collected when a business makes a purchase from out of state.

The city has yet to approve an agreement with the firefighters' union.

The contract currently on the table for City Council consideration, which will run until June 30, 2011, if approved, would utilize some of that use tax money to pay for the costs, according to a city council memo.

Proponents of MAPS 3 had stated during and after the campaign that the use tax money would fund 20 new police officers and 10 firefighters.

"With MAPS, we can dedicate a portion of the 'use tax,' a fee collected during the construction phase of MAPS, to add 10 firefighters, 20 police officers and no layoffs," Mayor Mick Cornett wrote in a Nov. 18, 2009, Gazette commentary.

LOOKING BRIGHTER
City Manager Jim Couch said the city had to eliminate some positions last year because of the economic downturn, and that the use tax funds are being used to pay to keep some officers on staff.

"Because we had the budget shortfall last year, several police and firefighters are being paid for by the use tax this year," Couch said. "If economy turns around (more officers will be hired); obviously, we're still seeing revenues down to what they were two years ago."

Gil Hensley, president of the FOP Lodge 123, said he was pleased that there were no cuts in the deal hammered out between the union and the city, which has been under negotiation since April.

"It's been a long process," Hensley said. "We're very pleased our members are going to maintain their salary and benefits. In this economic time, things are starting to look brighter." "Clifton Adcock

photo Jim Couch. Photo/Mark Hancock

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