Letter: Town Manager Explains Employee Salaries, Raises
Town Manager Michael Embury pens his first of a series of articles explaining the town budget.
To the editor,
This is the first of several articles to provide readers the facts regarding the fiscal 2012 and recently passed fiscal 2013 budgets. The purpose is to describe what happened in fiscal 2012 and why and what the fiscal 2013 budget means for us all.
The first issue is town employee salaries. Over the course of the last four years, salaries have changed as follows (listed by employee group):
- 2009-2010 – 3 percent
- 2010-2011 – 0 percent for patrol (12 hour shift); 1 percent for non-12 hour shift employees
- 2011-2012 – 1 percent for all employees
- 2012-2013 – 2 percent for all employees
NOTE: Union agreement to long term structural change moving to two 12 hour shifts versus three 8 hour shifts and 20 percent co-pay for new retirees reduced employee costs by slightly more than $600,000. This was accomplished through negotiation without arbitration.
- 2009-2010 – 3 percent
- 2010-2011 – 0 percent (result of arbitration award)
- 2011-2012 – subject of litigation
- 2012-2013 – subject of litigation
Local 1033: (Represents employees in Department of Public Works, Water, Senior Center, Clerical, Library, Police, Fire, Golf Course)
- 2009-2010 – 2.75 percent
- 2010-2011 – 2.75 percent
- 2011-2012 – 2.75 percent
- 2012-2013 – in negotiation
Non-Union Employees: (Includes department heads. Individuals and salaries will be in next week’s article.)
- 2009-2010 – 0 precent (Eligible employees received step increases; others longevity.)
- 2010-2011 – 0 percent (Employees moved to the high deductible Blue Cross plan resulting in no increase in this year’s premium for this group – 13 percent to 0; steps and longevity.)
- 2011-2012 – 0 percent (No step increases or longevity)
- 2012-2013 – 2 percent
It is beneficial to look at the recent history for town employees and factually assess how some groups have taken responsibility to work with the town in lowering employee costs.
Labor contracts and budgets are available on the town website.
Lastly, let’s consider the question I have been asked: “Why did the town have to take the school department to court over the fiscal 2012 budget?” The reasons are very clear:
- To their credit, the NK Administration declared a potential deficit as required under RI General Law.
- The law requires a remediation plan to cure the anticipated deficit based upon the school’s revenue structure.
- The published plan proposed requesting a supplemental appropriation of more than $700,000 from the town council to solve the anticipated shortfall. (Nearly the same amount that the council had not appropriated to the school department for the fiscal 2012 budget.)
- During this time there were no additional steps taken to cure the shortfall and the numbers that were being used were changing.
- The town was left with two courses of action – court action and actions required under the town charter.
- Court action produced deficit numbers that changed from one day to the next. Charter action reduced the NKSD appropriation as required due to revenue shortfalls.
- Periodic returns to court were necessary since the North Kingstown School Committee did not comply with the judge’s decision regarding the bottom line and the plain language of the town charter.
- As of June 11, 2012, the “to date” financial report showed the school department had a little over $1.8M that had not been spent.
Thankfully this matter seems to be resolved. It is unfortunate these actions were required but as we have seen around the state, these issues cannot be left unresolved until the end of a fiscal year or carrying over into a new fiscal year. (Woonsocket is the latest example of a school committee producing a year-end report of a balanced budget only to have it balloon to $10 million.)
In these difficult fiscal times, school departments and municipalities are watching every penny as the year progresses. As revenue shortfalls are discovered (state aid, Jamestown enrollment decline, Medicare reimbursement, etc.), midyear adjustments need to be implemented.
Now that there is an understanding of the ground rules, hopefully we can avoid this situation in the future.