GARDINER — New contracts for fire and public works department employees include changes to health insurance coverage and a cost of living increase.

Both union contracts expired June 30. The new three-year agreements, signed recently by city officials, will run retroactively from last July 1 through June 30, 2014.

“We have been in negotiations for over a year to reach these agreements,” said Gardiner City Manager Scott Morelli. “It takes longer than either side would like, but at the end of the day we reached the right agreements for employees and taxpayers alike.”

The agreements provide 2 percent cost of living adjustments for wages, retroactive to Nov. 1, along with 2 percent increases on July 1 this year and next year.

The contracts cover 14 fire department employees and eight public works employees.

Under the public works deal, signed April 30, employees will pay 20 percent of the insurance premiums for single and single with dependent health coverage. Previously, the city paid the entire cost for the single plan and 19 percent for the cost of the single with dependent plan. Morelli said there will be no changes to the family health insurance plan in which employees pay 28 percent and the city picks up 72 percent.

The fire department agreed to its contract on April 20, and includes a less expensive health insurance plan. In addition, single and single-with-dependent plan participants will pay 10 percent of their insurance premiums, with the city picking up the remaining 90 percent. Now, the city pays the entire cost of health insurance premiums for the single plan and 19 percent for the single-with-dependent plan.

Morelli said the 6 percent increase over the span of the fire department contract will result in about $42,000 in additional wages paid through June 2014. Taxpayers are responsible for 20 percent, or just over $8,000.

The balance is paid for by the ambulance budget, which is mostly funded by revenue from ambulance calls and assessments to participating communities.

Morelli said the less expensive fire department insurance policy and contribution by sing plan employees means the city will save $20,000 a year on its health insurance premium.

“If you figure a 10 percent annual health insurance premium increase, it is a savings that will only continue to grow over the years,” he said.

Morelli said a 6 percent increase over the life of the public works contract will result in about $21,000 additional wages paid through June 2014.

Taxpayers are responsible for 77 percent or approximately $16,000.

The rest is paid for by the wastewater budget, which is funded by Gardiner sewer customers, he said.

Morelli said the city has budgeted for all expenses and savings associated with these contracts.

Dustin Barry, president of the Gardiner Firefighters Union, said a lot of time and effort went into the contracts.

“I applaud the city of Gardiner for their willingness to work with the union in these tough economic times,” Barry said.

Dan Walsh, staff representative on Teamsters Local 340, said the negotiating team was dedicated to helping the union reach an agreement with the city that not only preserves jobs and maintains services, but also helps Gardiner control costs.

Other contract changes include:

* changing the mileage reimbursement rate to the state’s rate;

* requiring receipts for meals purchased on approved trips;

* standardizing the number of days employees and city staff have to file or respond to a grievance.

The city also expects to have an agreement with the one remaining union with an expired contract, the police, in the near future, Morelli said.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

 


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