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County considers contract extension

Pasco County leaders may sit down with the union representing emergency workers to discuss whether the contract they have been arguing over should cover more than one year.

If the county and Teamsters Local 444 agree to a two- or three-year contract, it would save both sides from almost immediately having to begin a new round of contract negotiations once they hammer out the contract they have been at odds over for months. Currently, both sides are at an impasse over a contract that applies only to 1991-1992.

The union, which represents about 200 emergency workers, recently wrote county officials to say it would be open to discussing a longer-term contract. After County Commissioner Ed Collins asked about the offer Tuesday night, County Administrator John Gallagher said he had looked into the possibility.

County staffers will ask the union for permission to hold an executive session to discuss privately the possibility of changing the contract's duration.

Both union and county leaders agree they would rather have a multiyear contract.

But Assistant County Administrator Dan Johnson, who works most closely with the union, said the county would have negotiated differently if the union had not called for a one-year contract.

"We want some changes to the contract if it's multiyear," he said, declining to be specific.

Clyde Wilds, assistant business agent for Local 444, said, "We'll listen to what they have to say."

In other County Commission action Tuesday night, commissioners voted to allow Scarborough Constructors to increase the density of its proposed Sable Ridge development in Land O'Lakes. The project, which will be served by an extension of Collier Parkway, will increase from 990 residences to 1,200.