New ruling says city must pay back police union pensions - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

New ruling says city must pay back police union pensions

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The city of Toledo may soon be facing a new financial crisis after budget moves made three years ago to address a multimillion dollar deficit.

The ruling from the State Employment Relations Board says the city must pay back members of the Toledo Police Command Officers' union for money lost in 2010, when the city suspended the union contracts.

At the time, Mayor Mike Bell, along with City Council members, declared "exigent circumstances" to balance the city's budget, which resulted in city union workers not being paid their pension pick-ups. The city's portion to the employee retirement fund was a benefit included in the city contracts at the time.

"We had two choices: either seek concessions from our employees, or lay off police officers and firefighters," said Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat.

Councilman Mike Collins voted against the city suspending the contracts and says he is not surprised a state panel has ruled in favor of the union receiving compensation.

"This was a poorly thought out process by Mayor Bell and the administration," said Collins.

Collins says the city now has to find money in its budget, which has the potential to throw the 2013 budget into chaos.

"The bottom line is, at this moment in time, we have an exposure to the extent of about $1.2 to $1.4 million that would be funds recovered as a result of this to the employees that were so impacted," said Collins.

The city could appeal the case, but officials have not announced their next step yet.

Herwat says it is likely the city will appeal the decision and does not have money currently in the budget to make payment to the command officers.     

"Not at this point in time, because we still feel this is a strong case on merits, and once it goes the appeal route, it likely won't be decided this year," said Herwat.

According to Collins, the city must be ready to pay back, even if it does not have the money.

"It's going to have a rippling effect across the entire city budget. It's not just going to impact public safety," said Collins.

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