Darien approves contracts for police and public works
The labor contracts for police and Public Works employees were both approved by the Representative Town Meeting Tuesday night.
The labor contract for the Public Works employees and five employees in Parks and Recreation includes wage increases of 1.75 percent for the 2012 fiscal year, 2.5 percent in 2013 and then 2.25 percent for 2014. David Kahn, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said members reviewed the contracts and felt the wage increases and other aspects of the contract to be reasonable.
"The current contract expired June 30, 2012. The major terms of the contract were found to be favorable. The wage increases were reasonable compared to other towns. Also, some of the changes to health insurance were also favorable," Kahn said.
"We felt the increases were modest and within town budget," Russell said.
Budget and Finance Chairman Bruce Orr said his committee also approved the contract and noted the increases in the wages were slightly offset by additional contributions from employees to their health-care premiums.
"From a cost standpoint, the general wage increases were viewed as responsible and in line with regional standards and the economic times," Orr said.
One of the only questions posed by the RTM came from District V member John Boulton who asked what the costs were for single and family benefit packages.
Town Administrator Karl Kilduff said the town was currently in the process of renewing its coverage with Anthem but he estimated the cost for family coverage at $22,000, an employee plus one would be $20,000 and single coverage would be $17,000.
"We were expecting an 11 percent increase, but it appears that will be a lower amount," Kilduff said.
The RTM approved the contract terms by a vote of 68-2.
Discussion about the police union contract warranted more time, although RTM members ultimately approved the terms of the contract. Under the new contract, which applies retroactively to June 30, 2011, would increase wages by 1.85 percent for that fiscal year, 2.25 percent for 2012 and then 2.5 percent for each subsequent year.
"The contract has been in negotiations for 19 months. I spoke with Chief [Duane] Lovello and he said he was quite comfortable with the contract. We voted unanimously to approve the contract," Patrick said.
Orr said the Budget and Finance Committee also approved the contract and said the new contract gives Lovello added flexibility and control over certain areas of the department.
"Keeping with our charter to focus on money, from an overall cost standpoint, the general wage increases were viewed by the committee as reasonable and in line," Orr said.
District III member Ellyn Coyne questioned whether the wage increases for police officers would guarantee Darien remained competitive with surrounding towns.
Kilduff said the smaller percentage increase for Darien officers did not mean they were making less when comparing their wage increases to their base pay.
"The increases are competitive but the town is getting those increases at lower percentage increase than other towns," Kilduff said.
The RTM approved the police contract by a vote of 68-2.
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