Northampton County Council approved a new contract with the employees of Gracedale during Thursday night's meeting. The agreement passed by a vote of 8-1, with council member Barbara Thierry being the only opposing vote.
Thierry told those observing the meeting that she is unable to support this agreement because of the cost to the taxpayer.
Council President John Cusick stated that the personnel committee discussed the issue during the pervious night's meeting and that the committee support the contract unanimously.
The contract is valid from January 2012 through Dec. 31, 2015 and is expected to save the county around $2.5 million.
Within the terms, employees are being paid according to their 2011 pay scale, with no increase to their salaries until 2015.
The contract redefine wages, sick days, and overtime wages for the employees.
"They gave away holidays, gave a personal day away, gave double time and a half," said council member Ken Kraft.
The agreement defines full-time employees as regularly scheduled to work a minimum of 37.5 hours per week and part-time employees as those not regularly scheduled a minimum of 37.5 hours per week. Full-time employees receive 52.5 hours of personal time.
"I think it's a win-win for the county," Kraft said.
Therapeutic Recreation Department employees on a trip with residents of the facility may be reimbursed for up to $25 for their lunch period.
Kraft, who referred to the reimbursed lunch as "money back in the pockets of the county" was responding to previous comments by citizens who criticized the paid lunch for employees.
"I support this contract wholeheartedly," said council member Scott Parsons.
Employees of Gracedale within the audience clapped with excitement as the official vote was made.