“We’re estimating that 40 percent of the wage adjustment will be funded through health care and other changes in how the earned time will be calculated,” he said. “A lot has to be said for the men and women of the department who voted to support that.”
Fitzgerald said the town is currently responsible for 90 percent of police employees’ health care premiums. That would go down to 87 percent in April and 85 percent next year.
Savage said the health insurance reduction was a fair one.
“To expect 90 percent is unreasonable,” Savage said. “We were really an anomaly. A lot of places are down to 80 percent, so where we ended up is what we could expect.”
Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Gray said this was one of his biggest challenges in his nine years as selectman.
“It’s been one of the most difficult things we’ve had to do,” Gray said. “We spent a significant amount of hours getting to this agreement. We had our best offer on the table for almost close to a year.”
The two sides also agreed to limit the amount of time off that employees can accrue.
“We were having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to employees who were buying back their accrued time,” Fitzgerald said. “We changed the buyout from biannually to annually. We won’t have to calculate and run the numbers and deal with the administrative responsibility of that process, which is significant saving to town.”
Savage said he was pleased the two sides ended up finding a good balance.
“This creates a long period of stability for the department,” he said. “Employees can count on a reasonable wage and taxpayers know early on what it will cost them.”