The Barrington Hills village board this week voted to comply with an appellate court ruling ordering they reinstate raises for police officers and reimburse tuition costs for their union chapter's president.
Police union officials were pleased the board chose to avoid what they characterized as a further waste of time and money on an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
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"We view it as a positive step," said Rick Tracy, a member of the police union's executive board. "But we also view it as that they had nothing else to do."
Complying with the court ruling is expected to cost the village about $65,555 for 2010 alone, $133,862 as the "worst-case scenario" for all the years since then, and $5,860 for the tuition reimbursement. That's not including interest payments that are still being calculated.
Board members voted 5-0 Monday to approve the costs. Trustee Joseph Messer was absent and Trustee Patty Meroni abstained.
Not yet discussed is a demand that the village pay the union's legal costs of slightly over $100,000. Such reimbursement is required by law, Tracy said.
The village's own legal costs on the matter from Jan. 1, 2010 through March 2013 were $120,238.
Last month the appellate court upheld the Illinois Labor Relations Board's order that the village reinstitute 2 percent raises retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, plus interest, and reimburse the union president for tuition toward his further education.
Both panels ruled that the village had committed unfair labor practices by rescinding the promised raises and funding after learning police officers were unionizing.
The labor board and appellate court rejected former Village President Robert Abboud's arguments that the raises were rescinded as a result of other unexpected costs and financial uncertainties.
Abboud was defeated in the April 9 election by new Village President Martin McLaughlin, who said he hopes for a less adversarial relationship with the police union.
"This wasn't a victory for me coming in as president," McLaughlin said of the board's vote. "I'm not happy to be in the situation we're in. It's a step toward offering a change of course to resolve the situation."
The question of reimbursement of legal fees isn't the only unresolved issue between the village and the union, though. Arbitration continues over an unapproved four-year contract meant to have begun in 2010.
"I will be meeting with the union representative, which will be the first time that's happened in quite some time," McLaughlin said. "We're going to be back (negotiating the next contract) a year from now."
Tracy said he recognizes the potential for better relations under McLaughlin, but added that there are too many unresolved issues to gloss over.
"With the new mayor, relations are improving, but they're not yet normal," Tracy said.