City, firefighters' local reach final settlement

The City of Taylor and the Taylor Professional Firefighters Local 1252 IAFF-CIO have reach final agreement in regard to an arbitration dispute, avoiding further legal battles in a disagreement that has lasted nearly two years.

Effectively, the settlement ends a lengthy period of complaints between the unionized firefighters and the City of Taylor primarily involving layoffs in the fire department in 2011.

Following the Mayoral elections last month, former City Councilman Rick Sollars followed up on a campaign committment to resolve the dispute. Just days into his new term, Mayor Sollars met with Local 1252 President George Quiroz to resolve the dispute.The negotiations were successful and a settlement resulted.

"The reality is that the (arbitration amount) was never changed (throughout the disargreement)," Quiroz said. "The entire issue was unfortunate. "We spent a lot of money in legal fees and I'm sure the City did, too. But we never agreed to any 60-month or 20-payment schedule. We were always open to negotiations, but that never happened. This is our City, too. We live here and we never wanted to put a burden on the City."

Until the terms of the settlement the City is obligated to pay laid off firefighters back pay and other benefits in two payments, amounting to $764,000. The first payment is due later this month and the other in March 2014.

The entire situation needed to comed to an end," Mayor Sollars said. "Safety is a very important issue to everyone who lives and works in Taylor. This issue divided our community. I'm happy to see it end in a professional, reasonable manner. The only regret is that the City ends up paying a lot of money for work that was never performed. But that is not the firefighters' fault -- the City acted in violation of the contract. Now that we've agreed to the settlement, we can move forward.