Monday, December 29, 2003

Police, firefighters to vote on reductions

Around the Tristate

CLEVELAND - Firefighters came away grumbling from a meeting about a proposal to prevent some upcoming job cuts, but some were willing to go along with the plan.

Under the deal, the city would save money through more flexible schedules and reduced uniform allowances, but keep the jobs of 21 paramedics and 80 of 150 city firefighters facing layoffs.

Bob Fisher, president of the firefighters union, said Saturday that he had mixed emotions because 70 jobs still would be eliminated.

Another proposed deal between the city and police union could preserve 90 of the 263 officer positions the city has discussed cutting. Police union president Bob Beck said the union has not endorsed the city's offer but agreed to present it to members for a vote.

Both police and firefighters vote today and Tuesday.

Mayor Jane Campbell has said the city must cut jobs and reduce benefits to overcome a $61 million deficit. She announced last month that about 700 city workers would be let go to balance the budget.

Pile of dead deer brings complaints

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - More than a dozen dead deer have been left to decay at a makeshift dump along Indiana 37 within sight of drivers along the highway.

After receiving several complaints about the deer carcasses, state conservation Officer Jeremy Coomes said he went to the site about 10 miles south of Bloomington and counted 20 to 22 dead deer.

Conservation officers did not know who was responsible for the dumping, he said.

Mike Teague, a dispatcher for the Monroe County Highway Department, said the pile was not made by county crews.

"We take all ours to the landfill, and they are buried," he said.

Coomes said he suspected the deer might have been placed at the site by state highway workers. If they did, he said they did not break any laws, because the dump was on state highway right-of-way, not on private property.

"They've got to put them somewhere," Coomes said.

A man answering the phone Saturday at the state highway department's Bloomington facility said no one was available to comment.

Buck Mullis said he called to complain about the deer pile after spotting what looked like a deer's head on top of a small hill alongside the highway.

Indiana officers to receive pay raises

Indiana state troopers and conservation and excise officers will soon receive their first pay raise in three years, with salary increases from 5 percent to 13 percent.

The Indiana Professional Law Enforcement Association Local 1041 union, formed a year ago, ratified a settlement, effective through 2007, last week after 84.8 percent of officers voted yes.

Gov. Joe Kernan still must approve the settlement before it takes effect, but that's a formality because state officials participated in the bargaining with police.

Budget officials estimate the raises will cost the state $5.7 million through June 30, 2005, when the current state budget expires.

Under the settlement, troopers with one year of experience will get $1,560 more - or 5 percent - to bring their annual salary to $32,760. First sergeants with 10 years of experience will make $56,472 - a 13 percent increase.

School district pulls out of suit against Ky.

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. - One of the school districts in a group suing state lawmakers for inadequate funding of public education has withdrawn as a member.

The Christian County Board of Education made its decision this month after the Council for Better Education asked for contributions to cover the costs of the lawsuit.

The board says it wants to give legislators more time to find money for schools.

The council represents more than 160 school districts across the state. With legal costs estimated at $279,760, the group is assessing its members 50 cents per pupil based on annual daily attendance.

For Christian County, that would have meant $4,111.

The lawsuit alleges the legislature has failed to follow through on the funding.

A study commissioned by the council earlier this year by University of Virginia researcher Deborah Verstegen said the state should be spending $892 million more per year to keep up with programs and to meet the state's goal of getting all students to proficiency by 2014.

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