Coun­cil re­views po­lice con­tract

The Colonial - - OPIN­ION -

Jr., rep­re­sent­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Jones, Norristown po­lice Chief Mark Tal­bot Sr. and DeOrzio met sev­eral times this past fall and this win­ter to ne­go­ti­ate the new, four-year con­tract, Tal­bot said.

“This con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion is like ev­ery other con­tract. It in­volves the cost of liv­ing is­sues of pay raises and health care,” DeOrzio said dur­ing the con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions. “The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is al­ways look­ing to in­crease the mem­bers’ con­tri­bu­tions for pen­sions and health care. The [union] mem­bers are look­ing for pay raises. We will be sit­ting down again soon to ne­go­ti­ate.”

The last two po­lice con­tracts be­tween the union lo­cal and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity have been de­cided by ar­bi­tra­tion pan­els.

Mem­bers of Norristown FOP Lodge 31 have been work­ing un­der the terms of an ex­pired three-year con­tract since Jan. 1. A three-mem­ber ar­bi­tra­tion panel ap­proved that po­lice con­tract on June 28, 2011, for the con­tract years 2011, 2012 and 2013, Tal­bot said.

The ar­bi­tra­tion panel was ap­pointed af­ter the two sides could not come to an agree­ment in 2011. The agree­ment in­cluded a 2 per­cent wage hike on July 1, 2011; a 1 per­cent wage hike on Jan. 1, 2012; a 1 per­cent wage hike on July 1, 2012; a 1.5 per­cent wage hike on Jan. 1, 2013; and a 1 per­cent wage hike on July 1, 2013.

The health care co-pays of the po­lice of­fi­cers were in­creased dur­ing the three­year con­tract by the ar­bi­tra­tion award,

“Some pension re­stric­tions that were guided by state law were in­cluded in the 2011-to-2013 con­tract,” DeOrzio said. “In each year of the con­tract there was a pension con­tri­bu­tion in­crease.”

In other busi­ness, coun­cil sched­uled a pub­lic re­view of the new zon­ing or­di­nance by the Norristown Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on May 13. Coun­cil will get to vote on the new zon­ing rules on June 14.

John Cover, the Mont­gomery County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion com­mu­nity plan­ning chief, de­scribed the three-year de­vel­op­ment of the zon­ing changes with the com­mu­nity.

Cover said Norristown is very dense, with 9,800 res­i­dents per square mile, com­pared to Mont­gomery County, where there are 1,600 res­i­dents in each square mile. Lot sizes vary from block to block, and the hous­ing types are in­ter­mixed on many blocks.

The new zon­ing rules will al­low new con­struc­tion to fol­low what al­ready ex­ists on each in­di­vid­ual block. A new hous­ing type will not be al­lowed if it does not al­ready ex­ist on that block.

“It is a good doc­u­ment. I rec­og­nize that it is a liv­ing doc­u­ment,” Cover said. “It is a doc­u­ment that can be changed in the fu­ture.”

Cover said the HC zon­ing dis­trict around the for­mer Mont­gomery Hos­pi­tal will be split into two dis­tricts called “of­fice res­i­den­tial” and “of­fice com­mer­cial re­tail.”

“What can go onto DeKalb Street are more in­tense uses,” he said. “In the res­i­den­tial dis­trict there will be less in­tense uses.”

Cover said that the re­de­vel­op­ment of Lafayette Street will be boosted by the even­tual con­nec­tion to the Penn­syl­va­nia Turn­pike.

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