The city of Gardiner has reached contract agreements with three of its four unions over the past few months, while the public works union is scheduled to enter mediation with the city next month.

The general union, which represents office staff, and police department union agreed to no wage increases for the first year. The fire department union’s 3 percent cost of living adjustment was offset by equal cuts in other benefits, according to City Manager Scott Morelli.

“These were some of the best negotiations I’ve been involved in, in terms of both sides really understanding the gravity of the financial situation the city faced,” Morelli said. “No one likes it when there’s a situation where you can’t offer your employees wage increases.”

The contracts of the general, police department and fire department unions include wage reopeners for the second and third years. The cost increase for firefighters in the first year is being partly offset by the city no longer paying holiday pay or compensatory time for employees who do not actually work on a holiday and increasing the amount of pay for those who actually work on those days, Morelli said. The contract also now requires employees in the fire department to do their own laundry at the station, with the exception of items contaminated by blood-borne pathogens.

Those unions represent 41 city employees. The nonunion employees, which include Morelli and department heads, didn’t see wage increases either.

Morelli said the city and the public works union have met several times but haven’t been able to agree on wages in the new contract. Mediation is scheduled to begin Aug. 5. He said the budget passed by City Council on July 2 didn’t include an expected wage increase for the seven public works employees represented by the union.

Although Morelli originally proposed a budget with an 8 percent tax hike, city councilors ended up passing an overall budget with a 4 percent tax increase after a revised financial outlook showed a surplus.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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