By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
A motion to fund a three-year contract for the 11-member Police Officers Union was approved almost unanimously by the Town Council.
The Memorandum of Understanding [MOA], which followed a 16-month negotiation process, is similar to the one for the Police Patrolman’s Union. It includes pay increases totaling 7 percent through the 2020, 2021, and 2022 fiscal years. The total increase is approximately $250,000 for all three years. This is a change from past contracts, in which pay increases usually occurred on the date of the officer’s hiring.
Over the last decade, these officers—which represent the department’s leadership—took no pay increases for five years, according to NAPD Chief John Reilly. The contract was first discussed at a Finance Subcommittee meeting. At the June 22 Town Council meeting, a motion to fund it was approved, with Councilor Julie Boyce the sole opponent.
“You’re so fortunate to have these people here,” said Reilly at the June 17 virtual meeting. “They run into danger when people run away. They most certainly deserve it.”
Town Manager Michael Borg said the department’s budget can accommodate the pay increase. The new contract also standardizes hazardous duty pay, becoming a flat rate for the department. A municipal hiring freeze has been in effect for several weeks, but hiring for essential positions can be done. Borg said he expects some staff vacancies within the NAPD in the near future and will work with the chief to see what positions can be filled.
“The FY 21 budget and contribution from the state are still unknown,” said Borg. “We’ve not yet heard from the state and expect them to adopt a 1/12 budget for the near future. If a greater than 20 percent drop [in local aid] occurs, we would be faced with hard choices in terms of furloughs and cuts.”
Discussion on this matter at both meetings was brief. Finance Subcommittee member Ron Lagasse, who cast a dissenting vote, was supportive but felt that in these difficult financial circumstances, now may not be the time for a pay increase. Boyce said that she supports the police, but would have preferred the pay increase be voted on each year.
“If we can’t fund it, it would be a breach of contract,” said Boyce.
Subcommittee Chair Justin Pare—who is also on the Town Council—said that emotionally, he wanted to support the contract, but needed to consider the potential fiscal impact. He said at his own company salaries had been frozen, and that in Plainville, an override was being discussed.
“I wish this contract wasn’t in front of us right now,” said Pare. “I wish it was in front of us six months from now. All around us are cuts and risks and financial uncertainties.”