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Sanitary board approves contract

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- One day after its executive director resigned amid concerns over a proposed collective bargaining agreement, the Huntington Sanitary Board approved the contract Wednesday with its union employees.

The two-year contract, which was ratified in a 2-1 vote during a brief meeting at City Hall, was the point of contention when Kit Anderson abruptly resigned Tuesday as the Sanitary Board's executive director. Before he resigned, Anderson told Mayor Steve Williams, who also is chairman of the Sanitary Board's Board of Directors, that he gave too many concessions to American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2531 in the contract and that it would lead to inefficiencies.

Williams and Alex Vence voted to approve the contract, while board member Garry Black voted against it. In explaining his dissenting vote, Black said he favored the contract except for a provision that institutes a mandatory, four-step employee grievance process with binding arbitration as the last step.

"I just have a long-standing belief that public officials shouldn't be delegating authority to a third party," Black said.

The contract was ratified by AFSCME Local 2531 members in a 19-11 vote Monday. The union represents 31 Sanitary Board employees.

The contract does not include base wage rate increases, but there is a "wage reopener" that requires the Sanitary Board to consider pay raises in January of each year. The contract also adds incentive bonuses for employees who obtain various licenses and certifications. It also provided two additional paid holidays and allows employees to carry over one week of vacation into the following year, but it must be used or cashed in within six months.

Upon termination of the contract, the economic terms and requirement for binding arbitration would expire, but the non-economic terms would remain in place during negotiations for a new contract.

In other business Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to give Williams the authority as board chairman to appoint an interim executive director with consultation from the other board members.

The board also voted unanimously to resolve a two-year dispute with the Huntington Municipal Development Authority over the location of a backup generator and electric control panel for a sewer pump station at KineticPark. The dispute will end with the Sanitary Board paying a contractor $52,500 to relocate the generator and electric control panel, which are located on the lower-level of the business park near the entrance.

HMDA board members claimed the Sanitary Board never received permission to place the equipment on the vacant parcel in 2011 and wanted it to be moved so they could sell the parcel to a prospective tenant. The generator and control panel will remain on the vacant parcel but will be moved several feet out of the way, said Wes Leek, field operations manager for the Sanitary Board.



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