Krista Corner Havre Daily News email@example.com
In a unanimous vote, the Havre City Council approved the 3.2 percent increase for union and nonunion ci ty employees, including department heads, said City Clerk Lowell Swenson on Tuesday. In a change from previous years, the City of Havre hired an outside entity to negotiate the city contracts with the department heads, rather than ut i l izing the Labor Negotiations Committee of the City Council. "The city hired a negotiator for the first time ever," Swenson said. "We had an individual that did it. That's what he does for a living." Jeff Minckler of Missoula was the private union negotiator hired by the city. Swenson said Havre was unusual in its use of City Council members in the negotiation of labor contracts. "A couple years ago I contacted larger cities, and we were the only city that negotiated labor contracts with the City Council," Swenson said. When asked if that was why the city chose to hire someone rather than continue on with the committee, Swenson said expertise was the deciding factor. "Because we wanted someone with more expertise in negotiating contracts," Swenson said. The city added the cost of hiring the negotiator close $10,000 according to Swenson to the budget. At Mond ay ' s me e t ing , Ci t y Council member Terry Schend credited Rice for resolving labor negotiation issues. "Mr. Mayor, I'd like to commend you for taking the initiative on this, because it's been a long time coming," Schend said. "I can't take all the credit," Rice said. "I met with the department heads and some of the City Council members helped, as well." In a related mat ter, Finance Committee Chair Schend said Rice had submitted a letter requesting he be awarded the same 3-percent increase in wages for city employees. "We received a letter from Mayor Bob Rice requesting a 3-percent raise in accordance with the labor contract," Schend said, adding that because the mayor's and Council's wages are set by ordinance, the Finance Committee was turning the reques t over to the Ordinance Committee chaired by Pam Hillery. "I'll just rescind that, then," Rice said, citing not wanting to trouble the Ordinance Committee. But Hillery said the Ordinance Committee would gladly look at Rice's proposal, and said it would only take about 30 minutes. The Ordinance Committee meeting is open to the public, and will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Two other committees of the City Council set meetings or gave reports to the Council as well. The Water and Sewer Committee, chaired by Council member Gerry Veis, was asked to call a meeting to discuss the potential discrepancy found on one Havre resident's bill. That meeting is also public and will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. In other business, the Safety Committee chaired by Robert Kaul presented binders to the Council members with the new blanket safety policy they hope to get passed. Rice asked Kaul to allow the Council to read through the new policy before making a decision, and said he would put it on the next Council agenda for a vote. The next Council meeting is April 21 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall.