"Final" police fee ruling may not be final - WDRB 41 Louisville News

"Final" police fee ruling may not be final

"It's a step in the right direction for FOP members that they're not going to have this money taken away from them any longer." That is how Fraternal Order of Police attorney Dennis Janes describes the good news in a state Labor Cabinet ruling regarding city imposed fees on take home patrol cars.

But Janes acknowledges there is also bad news for officers. The ruling does not require the city to refund about $890,000 it has already collected from officers. The Labor Cabinet says the city and the union need to negotiation a settlement on that issue. The other bad news: Mayor Jerry Abramson's office says, while the fee collections will stop as ordered, the city intends to file an appeal in Circuit Court.

"Such a large amount of money has been collected that it's enough that I would think anybody would fight about it," admitted Janes.

The issue arose in late 2008 when Police Chief Robert White ordered a $30 a month fee on take home vehicles increase to $100 a month or $160 a month for officers who use the vehicle for an off duty job. The Chief said the increased fee was a fair way for officers to help the city cope with a $13 million dollar deficit, at a time other city employees were being furloughed or losing their jobs.

FOP President John McGuire quickly objected, "This is a clear issue that affects wages, hours, and working conditions and is something they would negotiate." FOP members unanimously voted not to accept the mandatory fee. That led to a Circuit Court suit which the union won and an Appeals Court decision it lost. While the fee was imposed in early 2008, a state Labor Cabinet hearing officer declared the fee improper agreeing with the union that the issue needs to be negotiated.

Yesterday, the Labor Cabinet Secretary accepted the hearing officer's ruling.

FOP Attorney Dennis Janes is frustrated the city plans to go to court rather than accept the decision. "I think that the hearing officer has and now the Secretary of Labor has ordered bargaining, right now, on the subject of usage fees and reimbursement of prior collected fees and I hope that would take place and we'll be able to resolve this without more litigation.

James expects a city lawsuit, however, and the FOP attorney admits the union may also go to court asking a Judge to order fees already collected to be refunded to officers.

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