Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke wants all city employees to contribute to their pensions, not just some.
In an attempt to shrink a projected $600,000 shortfall in the 2012 city budget based on proposed cuts to state aid as outlined in Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget proposal, Neitzke has requested that the city’s unionized police and fire personnel voluntarily contribute to their pensions beginning Jan. 1, 2012.
Neitzke made the request in a letter sent Friday to Detective Brent Hart, Greenfield’s police union president, and firefighter Garret Cieczka, the union president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1963.
“If they contributed, it would be another ‘tool’ of about $440,000,” Neitzke said. “It would significantly temper the aid cuts. We all hope that they volunteer, but they are under no obligation to under the present legislation.”
The letter requests that police and fire personnel contribute at a 5.8 percent rate, the same rate all other public workers, other than elected officials, whose rate is higher, are now required to contribute under the budget-repair bill.
Neitzke’s letter states the city would continue to contribute the remaining differential between the voluntary contribution and what it pays now into protective personnel pensions, or approximately 15 percent.
The in state aids: losses of approximately $526,000 in shared revenue, $263,000 in general transportation aids and a $177,000 recycling grant. Neitzke said the pension and health care contributions of all other city employees would save between $325,000 and $350,000, leaving the city more than $600,000 short.
Hart said in an email he had not yet fully discussed the mayor’s proposal with the police union board nor had it been presented to union members, but that the board intends to do so in the coming weeks.
Hart added, "We appreciate the (mayor's) direct line of communication with our union and hope we can remain on positive terms.”
Greenfield Patch’s efforts to contact Cieczka via email Tuesday morning were unsuccessful.
And what will Neitzke and the city do if the police and fire unions don’t agree to the mayor’s request?
“We’re still trying to get our arms around the impacts of the cuts in state aid, recognizing the legislation hasn’t even taken effect yet,” Neitzke said. “Every option will be looked at as we begin the 2012 budget. Whatever happens, the likelihood are painful cuts since we cut over $1.5 million over the last two years.
“Nonetheless, we’ll figure it out. That’s our job.”