Police union, borough come to terms on contract

NAUGATUCK — Police and local officials agreed to a new police union contract that gives members raises of 2.5 to 3 percent over the next three years.

In exchange, the 55 members of the police union agreed to health insurance concessions that will save the borough $1.9 million over six years, officials said.

“I believe that the agreement was bargained in good faith and is a fair deal,” said Sgt. Colin McAllister, union president.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted 9-1 during a special meeting Dec. 9 at Town Hall to approve the pact. The lone ‘no’ vote came from Deputy Mayor Robert Neth, who said he disagreed with some of the contract language, especially that centering around reimbursement for union members to take college classes, placing emphasis on college education rather than longevity in promotional exams, and how much money the borough will have to reimburse for college credits.

Neth also said he did not like that some members of the departments are allowed to have borough vehicles for personal use.

The borough was pleased with health insurance givebacks.

The contract slowly phases out the preferred provider organization, or PPO, style plans. Currently, employees have a choice between those plans and high-deductible health savings accounts. In the third year of the contract, 2018, employees will have no choice but to enroll in the health savings account.

They will also have to pay the full deductible of that plan, which is $2,000 for singles and $4,000 for families.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the borough’s top priority in contract negotiations is to shift all employees to high-deductible health savings accounts.

“The long term savings to the borough significantly outweigh the raises that were given in the (police) contract,” Hess said. “I believe this contract is a great step toward implementing similar plans throughout the borough. It is our goal to become one of the first towns in Connecticut to accomplish this objective.”

The union membership will get 2.5 percent pay increases retroactive to this fiscal year (July 1 to June 30, 2016); 3 percent between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017; and 3 percent between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

Overall, the contract will cost the borough $289,519, or 5.6 percent, more over the next three years than if wages had stayed stagnant.

Other changes include how reimbursements for college classes are factored and step increases.

Employees used to be reimbursed for taking college classes up to the amount those classes would cost at the University of Connecticut. Now, they can get reimbursed the cost of credits at any school.

There were some changes in the step increases, or pay increases in addition to contract wage increase that are given to members for longevity. The salary for the officers on the first two steps decreased, which the union agreed to because the contract adds an additional step increase.

In year one of the contract, a rookie officer at step one of the contract makes a $56,634 base annual salary; that will go up to $60,083 in year three.

The person at the top of the pay scale, a captain, will make a $97,273 base salary in year one; that will go up to $104,249 in year three.

Luke Marshall contributed to this article.