Quincy city officials admit error on firefighter contract vote

Mayor Kyle Moore, left, and corporation counsel Lonnie Dunn attending a Quincy City Council meeting last August. (H-W File Photo/Phil Carlson)
Posted: Apr. 23, 2014 1:03 pm Updated: May. 7, 2014 1:15 pm
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A one-year contract with the bargaining unit representing Quincy firefighters is in jeopardy because it was not ratified Monday night as city officials believed.

Mayor Kyle Moore admitted Wednesday that city ordinance 2.107 stipulates that eight votes are required to pass any ordinance, resolution or motion. Aldermen were deadlocked at 6-6 on the firefighter contract — two aldermen were absent — and Moore cast what he thought was the deciding vote to approve the deal.

Both Moore and Corporation Counsel Lonnie Dunn were asked about the lack of the eighth vote following Monday night’s meeting, and both said the contract was ratified by the 7-6 margin. However, they backtracked on that Wednesday, and said the motion was actually defeated for the lack of eight votes for approval.

“Usually when it’s a tie, the mayor casts the deciding vote,” Moore said. “For this resolution and looking at our ordinance and doing more research with corporation counsel, it’s a majority of the elected officials, not the majority of elected officials present.

“There was a misconception that the resolution passed, so we’ll most likely put it back on the agenda for all 14 members to vote on it Monday night (April 28).”

Aldermen Glenda “LeXze” Mann, R-1, and Tony Sassen, R-4, were absent Monday.

“What happened was that while the vote was being taken, I and (City Clerk) Jenny (Hayden) each keep track of the votes,” Dunn wrote in an email to the media.

“While I was tallying my votes, Jenny stated the vote (total), which I didn’t hear. I heard the mayor state, while I was counting, he was going to vote, and didn’t finish my count, consequently, I thought the vote was as the previous vote (Transit) and was 7 to 5 with the mayor being the eighth vote.

“The mayor thought that the vote required a majority of those present to pass, 6 to 6 tie with the mayor casting the tie vote.”

The contract with a Firefighters Local 63, provides a 1 percent general increase and guarantees no layoffs and station closures. It also provided that dependent health care premium costs for firefighters will only increase by 5 percent, compared with the 12 percent that other city department employees are seeing. Firefighters will give up one of their three time-off slots, which will reduce overtime.

Fire Chief Joe Henning voiced frustration that the contract will need to go before council again.

“I really thought we had a plan that was going to allow us to move forward and keep the fire stations in place for one more year as we put together a planning process,” he said. “This complicates the issue. It certainly leaves us hanging in we go another week without knowing if we have an agreement with the firefighters union or not.”

If the contract is not ratified, the city and union will have to head back to the bargaining table.