The city and the Lawrence Police Officers Assn. declared impasse today on negotiations for a new contract, each agreeing they could budge no further.
The two sides are basically stuck on the length of the agreement and health care, according to Rod Bremby, assistant city manager and spokesman for the city's negotiating team.
Having reached impasse, both sides will ask a federal mediator to assist in forging an agreement, he said.
LPOA members voted unanimously Tuesday night to reject a proposal for a three-year agreement from the city, said Tony Garcia, LPOA chair. Police are seeking a one-year deal. The current pact between the city and police expires Dec. 31.
"We just want to know what the economy is going to do before we stick our necks out," Garcia said. "Then we can come back to the table with a better picture."
BREMBY said he was "very surprised" at the LPOA's decison. "The offer . . . was the best the city could make under the circumstances. It was a fair agreement," he said.
Thirty-eight of the LPOA's 75 members voted on the proposal, the best turnout in recent memory, Garcia said.
Police also want the city to increase the amount it pays for health insurance for dependents. The city now pays $96 a month for dependent insurance, which is about 72 percent of the current cost, Garcia said.
The city is willing to increase that amount to $100 in 1994 and 1995, Bremby said. Police, anticipating a significant rise in insurance costs, would rather the city pay a flat 75 percent.
Although the two sides are headed for mediation, Bremby said he doubted there was any more room for movement by the city. He predicted the next city proposal would not be as attractive as the current offer.
"WE NEED to let them know that you make your best offer and your best deal before you go to mediation," he said. "It's not meant as a penalty but as an incentive to do business with the city above board and fair."
Garcia said the city needs to remember the LPOA is holding firm on a one-year proposal. "I don't think they want to get locked into a multiyear deal with the current economy," he said.
If the two sides cannot reach an agreement through mediation, they will submit their final proposals to the Lawrence City Commission, Bremby said.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing to hear justifications from both sides on their proposals. They then unilaterally implement one of the two proposals.
Garcia said today there was no animosity between the two groups. "Our executive board is still looking forward to working with the city."
A date has not been scheduled yet for the beginning of mediation. "We're still waiting to hear back from the mediator," Bremby said.