SYRACUSE, NY – The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority will be reimbursing the city three million dollars in a settlement with the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association for lost wages from 2012-2014. The airport authority did not have the power to hire a private security company when it did.
The airport authority was created in 2011 to take control of Hancock airport away from the city and put it into independent hands. The airport authority would reduce the cost of operations and entice more airlines to come to the area. One way was by cutting back on Syracuse police overtime and moving to an outside security company, GS4.
But the city did not officially transfer the Federal Aviation Administration operating certificate over to the airport authority until 2014. The Public Employment Relations Board in Albany sided with the police union when the union sued over the elimination of airport overtime ruling the airport authority could not hire outside security until it had the FAA certification.
Syracuse Common Councilor Nader Maroun said now it is in everyone’s best interest to move on.
“This is a settlement to try to resolve all of those issues,” Maroun said. “If we didn’t go forward with this, we would continue to pay interest on the settlement that was agreed upon, so we need to get a decision to get this resolved for all parties included. So in the aggregate, and in the long term, it’s the right thing to do.”
Maroun said now that the FAA certification has been formalized, which it was in 2014, the airport authority can hire the security it wants.
“But we needed to settle the gap between when the airport authority made the decision to hire them and when the ruling was done by the administrative judge.”
Maroun said at the time of the G4S hiring in 2012, the mayor’s administrative and the airport authority thought the FAA certification was a minor technicality.
“So they went ahead and did it,” Maroun said.
Maroun said the airport authority has the funds to cover the $3 million settlement. Jeff Piedmonte, the president of the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association said everyone that worked for G4S, which hires active duty police officers, is being compensated an extra 15 dollars an hour for their time worked at the airport. A remaining $1.2 million is being split among the police union’s members.