According to Mark Robarge at The Record, the Troy City Council has been asked to ratify a Memorandum Agreement signed by Mayor Lou and former PBA President Bob Fitzgerald in June of 2014.
"Specifically, the agreement spells out that any PBA member who accrues 10 years of service with the department would be eligible for health insurance coverage as a retiree upon leaving the department for any reason. The agreement modifies a memorandum agreed to earlier in 2014 that extends another memorandum from 2010 that extends yet another memorandum agreed to two years before that modified a contract that initially took effect in 2004."
"No current council members date back to the 2004 agreement, and none of those reached Monday were aware of what it said about eligibility for retiree health insurance benefits. However, the proposed agreement points out that 20 years of city employment is required for anyone to qualify for the city to pay half the cost of dental insurance premiums."
It has been the City's practice in negotiating contracts to hammer out minor details that will take effect in the future at a later date. It has also been common practice to amend and extend long-term contracts by memorandum agreements. Again, those items worked out are traditionally minor details with little to no financial consequences. Cutting service time requirements for costly benefits is not a minor detail. In fact, benefits will need to be the prime focus of future contracts.
Here's the thing, though: Assuming that the Mayor had not exceeded his daily limit of laudanum when the agreement was signed, he either has the authority to sign the agreement or he does not. If the mayor has the authority to unilaterally enter into these modifications the agreement stands. If he does not, the agreement is void or voidable. The fact that he now seeks Council ratification would imply that even these modifications need Council approval. Even if a mayor can modify an agreement unilaterally, it should be done in the open
We also find it disturbing that this was not addressed during the recent budget drama. Was the change reflected in the budget or will this be another expense unaccounted for? Lou and Ian need to answer some tough questions and we find it unlikely that the Council will ratify this agreement which probably means we'll be facing a lawsuit. We can wait to hear Rosamilia's explanation. It needs to be clear and sensible. We are skeptical.
Finally, can we stop alleging that this agreement was signed for former Officer Brian Gross. Is anyone really so simple-minded to believe such a modification for an officer forced to resign for tipping-off drug dealers? District 4 Councilman Bob Doherty said:
“I don’t think the people of the city of Troy should be paying in perpetuity for the benefits of someone guilty of malfeasance.” We couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, that is something that will need to be taken up in the State Legislature, where former members Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos will be receiving their pensions.
What we do know is that the next administration should hire Bob Fitzgerald as a consultant for contract negotiations.