Council noncommittal on challenging Grebien's COLA decision

Council noncommittal on challenging Grebien's COLA decision

PAWTUCKET - Members of the City Council are saying they probably won't challenge Mayor Donald Grebien's decision to suspend cost of living increases for police and fire retirees.

Jeremiah "Jerry" O'Connor, president of the local association of retirees and a former police officer, has asked the council to step in and overturn what he says was Grebien's "illegal" move to suspend the COLAs for three years, starting July 1.

"At this point, my plan of action is to request the council on my behalf to send a communication to City Solicitor Frank Milos to review Mr. O'Connor's statements he made (at the last meeting) and comment if there is any merit or legal standing to his views," said City Council President David Moran in an email.

If the mayor responds that there is no merit to O'Connor's view that the action was illegal, "then the council will take no action," said Moran.

"I would presume Mayor Grebien and his administration did their homework on this ahead of time anticipating some possible form of legal action from the retirees," he said. The council would like some assurance from the administration that the city is on "sound legal footing here" and "won't be susceptible to future legal costs," said Moran.

"Other cities and towns have also cut COLAs in the past and (I am) not aware of any legal action response except for the pending one against the state."

Grebien reiterated this week that his administration's actions were unavoidable.

"The city's (funding improvement plan) is one that was reasonable and necessary based on the state requirements," he said. "The plan was vetted and everyone who was going to be impacted had the opportunity to be heard. There were two public meetings held by the administration and numerous public hearings held by the Pawtucket City Council as required as they adapted and approved the (funding improvement plan).”

Grebien spokesman Dylan Zelazo told The Breeze for a story last week that the administration believes it is on firm legal ground in cutting the COLAs for three years as one piece of an effort to bring the public safety pension plan out of "critical status," as required by state law.

O'Connor has warned that the retirees will win in court if they decide to sue the city over the suspension of the annual increases. He warned that the city could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars if and when the retirees win their case.

Comments

But, of course. It's an election cycle. BTW, if you've got a pet peeve right now until the week before the general elections? Bug them now. Going to great lengths to get votes through appeasement, is in the air. They count on us NOT remembering how Pawtucket has been in reverse economically, safety wise, and responsible use of our taxes collected with taxes that among the highest rates of the 39 cities/towns in Rhode Island. Vote according to their history and past actions that has not improved Pawtucket as a whole.

Every story I read..... the same thing, disgusting! The City of Pawtucket once again worried only about themselves getting sued.