hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In a last-minute deal Friday, one of the Middletown’s two police unions came to an agreement that will save four department jobs, while the other got an extension through the weekend to decide whether to accept a deal to preserve six positions.

Meanwhile, a handful of parks and recreation employees retired and nine others were laid off after their bargaining unit failed to strike an agreement with the township, said Mayor Tony Fiore.

The police department’s Superior Officers Association came to terms on a four-year contract that saves the jobs of four officers, Fiore said.

Under the terms, the 21 members of the union will either contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries to the township’s healthcare plan, or if they decide to stick with their current plan, pay 25-percent of the premiums, Fiore said.

Members of the union will also get 1.5-percent raises that take effect in October, and are not retroactive, then receive 2-percent raises for 2012, 2013 and 2014, Fiore said.

“We are happy,” Fiore said. “It’s a good deal for the township both this year and long term.”

The agreement came Friday afternoon, a matter of hours before the town’s layoff plans were to take effect. An extension was granted to the department’s Policeman’s Benevolent Association local to decide on a proposal from the town, Fiore said. If the P.B.A. rejects the proposal Monday, six officers will be let go, he said.

“The ball’s in their court,” Fiore said.

While cops were able to hammer out an agreement with the town, the union representing parks and recreation was not.

Nine employees were laid off effective Saturday, Fiore said, while three decided to retire, the Asbury Park Press reports. Four positions were shifted elsewhere to achieve savings, the paper said.

Fiore said the parks and rec layoffs will not have an impact on maintenance and operations of the department.

The township committee, to keep its $61.1 million budget with the state’s two-percent property tax cap, submitted a 26-employee layoff plan in February. Township officials have been intent on gaining significant health and benefit concessions from the various unions to maintain its budgetary restrictions. The agreement with the SOA Friday accomplishes that, Fiore said.

The township committee will meet at town hall Monday night, when it’s expected to announce whether the P.B.A. accepted its proposal.

“That’s the last piece of the puzzle to get things done,” Fiore said.