Steubenville police union members and city administrators reached a tentative agreement on a new 19-month contract that includes a 2.2-percent pay increase for officers.
Union members already ratified the labor agreement, and legislation was introduced at Tuesday's City Council meeting for council to approve the contract at next week's regular meeting.
Mayor and acting City Manager Domenick Mucci said the pay increase was possible after the union officers agreed to concessions "that include a new benefits package for new hires in the police department." Mucci said the contract is retroactive to June and will run until Dec. 31, 2014.
"I want to thank and commend the police negotiating team for their hard and diligent work on the contract. The police understand the fiscal issues facing the city, and the city understands their point of view. We were able to reach agreement on several cost-savings measures that will allow the city to save money in the future. That allowed us to make a pay raise adjustment," Mucci said following the meeting.
Mucci said he does not anticipate any reductions in the police ranks.
"The police understand the future outlook for the city. Once the contractual changes are implemented, we will show a cost savings for the city. We are in the process of finalizing the contractual language and will have it ready for the council's consideration Tuesday night," Mucci added.
In other business, council also learned the 100-year-old sanitary sewer line that runs beneath and along University Boulevard needs repaired as soon as possible.
"Essentially what we have here are problems with the sewer line. It is a bad set-up. We have had an analysis of the line done, and the area beneath the LaBelle News parking lot is the worst. We have fenced off the area with orange snow fence so there is no parking in that area. The engineers who inspected the line said that spot could go at any time," Wastewater Assistant Superintendent Chuck Murphy told council members Tuesday.
Murphy said the sewer line was constructed "probably more than 100 years ago with sandstone blocks and bricks."
"The line is in the process of collapsing in the parking lot area. We need to dig out that area, which is approximately 35 feet deep, and replace that section. While we have it open we will line the rest of the sewer line that is under University Boulevard. If we don't do the job, you may have a large sinkhole in the parking lot and sewage could back up into the businesses and residences in that area," said Murphy.
Murphy said MWH Americas is preparing a design-build plan.
"This will be emergency legislation that we hope to have ready for introduction in two weeks. By the time the plan is developed and contractors are in place, we will probably start on this project in February 2014 and have it completed by July next year. This project will not interfere with the University Boulevard paving project set for this year. This is the fastest way to do what we are looking to do," Murphy continued.
Murphy said the repair will include about 2,000 feet of replacement pipe.