By Max Bowenemail@example.com
After 13 months of negotiations, the Town Council has approved funding for a three-year contract for the Police Patrolman’s Union.
The contract calls for a retroactive 2 percent raise starting July 2019, a 2.5 percent raise in July 2020, and a 2.5 percent raise in July 2021. The contract had been previously reviewed by the Finance Subcommittee, which passed a motion to recommend favorable action by a vote of 4-3.
Town Manager Michael Borg said the town has the funds for the 2019 raise, but state aid is facing a potential shortfall due to the financial impacts of COVID-19. It’s is been estimated that the decrease could be between 10 and 20 percent. While this led to some concerns about possible layoffs in the future, the council was very supportive of the contract, and passed a motion to fund it by a vote of 8-1.
Town Councilor Justin Pare—who also chairs the Finance Subcommittee—said he had a number of conversations with Borg about this and doesn’t believe that the raises will be a tipping point for the budget. Pare was among those on the subcommittee who voted to support the contract.
“I think it’s OK to vote to support this,” said Pare at the council’s meeting on Monday, April 27.
It’s estimated that North Attleborough officers make 18.5 percent less than other communities and many complete their education with $60,000-$80,000 in debt. The union has taken no raises for five of the last 10 years, according to Patrol Officer Union President Craig Chapman. In the last few years the department has seen 12 officers leave to pursue other career opportunities. Councilor John Simmons said that many of the unions in town have been impacted by recent economic challenges, but all have since recovered, except for the patrol union.
“They’re the only ones to have not been made whole,” he said.
Councilor Julie Boyce voted against the contract, citing the current economic downtown. She asked if just one year of raises could be approved or if the process could be delayed. Borg answered in the negative to both questions, saying that such action would take the union and the town back to the negotiating table.
“I don’t feel comfortable giving a raise at this time,” she said.
Councilor Michael Lennox said that the town relies on the police every day, but much more so in the current crisis.
“We need them now more than ever,” he said.