JURA Approves Employee Contract

City officials have come to an agreement with one of their collective bargaining units.

On Thursday, the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency board agreed to a new contract with its employees. The bargaining unit had been operating without a new contract since 2012. Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said the new contract is for five years, which will be retroactive to the start of 2012 and finishing the end of 2016. The contract calls for zero percent salary increases for 2012 and 2013; a 1.5 percent salary jump for 2014; and 2 percent raises for 2015 and 2016.

The new contract also states there will be an increase for how much employees pay for health insurance. Like the police and fire contract agreed to in December, the new agreement includes a wellness program. The Good Life Program is the name of the wellness plan BlueCross BlueShield is offering to health insurance groups. The goal of the program is to make individuals more accountable for how much they pay for their health insurance premium.

BlueCross’ wellness program was one of the main factors for city officials in reaching an agreement with fire and police union leaders last year. The Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency agreement states that active and retired members of the union will need to participate in the Good Life Program in order to pay less for insurance. In 2015, if members participate they will pay 18 percent for health insurance. If they select not to participate in the program, they will pay 25 percent. In 2016, participants will pay 19 percent for health care coverage. Those who aren’t part of the wellness program will pay 26 percent.

Teresi said both sides gave in to reach the five-year contract agreement.

“We’ve been in negotiations with this bargaining unit in good faith for some time,” Teresi said. “It is a fair and equitable agreement.”

Greg Moran, Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency president, said during the contract negotiations the bargaining unit had two different presidents and faced many issues.

“It was tough work, but we got it done,” he said.

The Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency’s union is similar to the Jamestown City Administrative Association’s bargaining unit, which also reached a contract agreement with city officials.

“They’re two separate, but basically related bargaining units,” Teresi said.

In other business, the board approved spending $30,000 toward the new code enforcement software program titled MyGov. Earlier this month, Vince DeJoy, city development director, introduced a new software program that will allow residents to file housing complaints online. DeJoy said the Web-based government and community development software program will assist city code enforcement officers with their jobs. The software program will allow all involved in the city’s development office to access information easier because it will be streamlined. The program will also help mobilize code officers daily on what houses they need to continue tracking.

Not only will it help city officials, but it will assist residents in reporting possible code violations. DeJoy said people can take photos of a house with their smartphones or any computer device with Internet access to submit a photo of a potential problem property. He said there is an online action center where citizens can submitted complaints, which will be easier and faster than a resident calling a city official.

The implementation costs for the new software program is around $30,000, with an annual software subscription being around $20,000. DeJoy said it will take about 90 days for the new system to be operational. He said several programs were investigated, but the MyGov user-friendly system seemed to be the best fit for city officials. DeJoy said there will be a town hall meeting scheduled once the MyGov program is ready to be used to inform residents on how to use the new code enforcement system.