Statement from Albion PD union about pay dispute ‘unhelpful’ in moving village forward
I am writing today in reference to the “press release” from the Albion Police Benevolent Association (PBA) regarding the resolution of the past pay dispute, recently resolved.
Recognizing that, at its core, the basic problem was how to equitably correct a longstanding accounting error, I was surprised and disappointed to read a public statement rife with character assassination, unfounded assumptions, and statements of uncertain veracity presented as truth. As a village resident I found the tone disturbing and unhelpful in moving the village forward into the new year.
In the Orleans Hub (July 18, 2022) it was reported that representatives from the Bonadio Group informed the Village of Albion that, in fact, Albion Police officers had been overpaid $236,000 over a five-year period.
This was uncovered during a budget review by the new mayor. The article indicates that Mr. Javier at that time contacted several outside agencies to help resolve the issue. He apparently felt as mayor that he had the duty to ensure financial responsibility on behalf of the taxpayers. That an accounting error occurred is, to my knowledge, not in dispute.
Unfortunately, the discovery of payroll discrepancies and the effort to correct them was characterized as “an ill-conceived escapade of attacking Village of Albion police officers.” Again, the authors of the press release indicate that upon taking office in April, 2022, the Mayor “set off on an ill-fated attack on the Albion police officers.”
I fail to see how an accounting correction constitutes an attack on one’s own constituency. Mayor Javier likely knew when he initiated the payroll audit that he had kicked a hornets’ nest, but believed setting things right was the only option available.
Ultimately, the dispute was resolved because of the power of the union and fear of continued litigation. To say that the PBA was “forced” to pursue several legal actions (creating leverage for the payroll situation) is at best a mis-characterization. That the village was looking at $714,000 in liability is a specious claim, based on an “investigation” done by the union.
The fact of “past practice” is the best argument for resolution in favor of the union members. Since officers had been through 160 payroll cycles with no apparent harm to the general well-being, an argument that there was no pressing reason for reconfiguration would be reasonable.
I believe that the mayor, for his part, felt he was performing due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers. That an issue already resolved should be the focus of continued acrimony is a sad result of public discourse that often descends into personal attack. I believe we can all be better than that.