The Utica Common Council is discussing a new employment contract between the City of Utica and its Police Union.
The contract could potentially amend the current residency restriction for Utica Police, as well as update other things like the city employees' healthcare plan and raises.
The current residency law has been in place for 10 years and requires Utica City Police Officers to live within city limits, but a new law could change that restriction for police officers and allow them to live outside of the city.
The proposed healthcare plan to save the city money would move the union's members to a single high-deductible plan where officers would make contributions to 20% of the plan's cost, but all of this is conditional on the passing of the new residency law.
If the current residency law is amended, Utica Police Officers would be able to live anywhere within Oneida County, or a neighboring county for a $3,000 commuter fee to the city that would be deducted from the officer's salary each year.
Utica mayor Robert Palmieri, his administration, and the local police union have been negotiating the proposed law.
The Utica Common Council is working to make amendments to the proposed law, and to take possible action on it, but they say there will be serious financial implications to the city if the council does not act fast because of the conditional healthcare clause.
"The voters voted on it many years back, put it in the city charter," Utica Common Council President Michael Galime said. "But, this issue for me is a problem of separation of powers. We've got the administration negotiaing with the pba a contract that has financial implications if the common council does not act."
So if the law passes, officers would only be able to move outside of the city after a 5-year residency within the city, and they would then have to pay the city $3,000 each year.
If the new law doesn't pass, then the police union has the option to take the last two years of the new five-year contract off the table, including the new healthcare plan and its potential savings to the city.
The proposed law will possibly be voted on at the next Common Council meeting on August 8th.
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