Last night at the Common Council meeting, a resolution was passed to allocate money to pay legal fees incurred during 2010 in excess of what had been budgeted. At the end of the meeting, Mayor Richard Scalera rose to explain that some of those legal fees went for an arbitration hearing involving a police lieutenant's request for a health insurance buyout. The lieutenant, who according to an article that appeared in the Register-Star last summer is the third highest-paid City employee with a salary in 2010 of $78,587.13, is married to another Hudson police officer and is covered by a family health insurance plan claimed by her husband and provided by the City of Hudson. According to Scalera, their health insurance costs the City $17,000 annually. The lieutenant is requesting a buyout from the City for the individual health insurance plan that she does not use because she is already covered by her husband's family plan. The City contested the buyout but lost in court, Scalera said, "because of the wording in the police contract."
On the same theme, Scalera mentioned that the police department is suing the City for compensation because they, as essential personnel, had to work on two days in 2010 when City Hall was closed for emergencies and nonessential City employees got the day off. In lieu of monetary compensation, they will accept time off, but, Scalera commented, that still ends up costing the City money. This claim for compensation, Scalera explained, is being made based on a provision written into the police contract 30 years ago.
Scalera made the point that contracts negotiated by police or other unions decades ago are threatening to bankrupt municipalities like Hudson, and he is calling for the State of New York to allow municipalities to reopen contracts in order to negotiate more sustainable terms.