Summit County sheriff's deputies have agreed to take $350,000 in pay cuts next year to avoid layoffs.
The deputies' union overwhelmingly approved the concessions this week, the Fraternal Order of Police announced Thursday. The vote was 158-85.
"I couldn't be prouder of the deputies," FOP/Ohio Labor Council representative Otto Holm said. "They recognized the economic condition of Summit County, caused partially by the cuts in local government funds by Gov. [John] Kasich's budget, and acted in the best interest of the community that they serve."
Sheriff Drew Alexander was seeking concessions, because his budget for next year is being trimmed by $1 million. County Executive Russ Pry has pushed to reduce countywide spending to deal with falling revenue.
The sheriff renegotiated several contracts, including medical services at the jail, and didn't fill many vacant positions this year to save money. He asked deputies, who had rejected similar cuts two years ago, to take concessions to plug the remaining gap.
The sheriff's administration said up to six positions were in jeopardy for layoffs. The local union has about 300 members.
"They made a good decision, and nobody is going to be laid off in 2012," sheriff's spokesman Bill Holland said. "Everything worked out for the best."
Individual deputies will have three options: forgoing their $1,200-a-year clothing allowance, forgoing half their clothing allowance and taking three unpaid days off, or taking five unpaid days off.
"Whatever works out best for them personally, they can select," Holland said.
Two years ago, deputies rejected concessions after a bitter negotiation, and 30 deputies were laid off.
Holland and Holm attributed the difference this year to better communication and an improved relationship between the administration and union.
"Now that we have more of a working relationship, people are willing to understand the general [economic] difficulties, and we're working together to get through this," Holm said.
In a prepared statement, FOP of Ohio President Jay McDonald said FOP members across the state have been taking such cuts.
"Public employees have given over $1 billion in contractual concessions since 2008," he said.
Copyright 2011 - The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio
McClatchy-Tribune News Service