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Town Receives $600,000 Homeland Security Grant; Union Contracts Approved

The grant will go toward building a facility in Point Judith to store the town’s boats during disaster situations.

At Monday night’s town council meeting, Narragansett Police Chief Dean Hoxsie announced that a $600,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security had been awarded to the town for a new port facility in Point Judith.

“This facility will be a three-bay garage,” Hoxsie said. “The yearly costs to the town will be minimal. It will not be staffed full-time.”

Hoxsie and Town Engineer Jeff Ceasrine said their project was approved partially because it was billed as a multi-jurisdiction facility.

“Jeff did a hell of a job putting together the package we submitted,” Hoxsie said, adding that federal and state authorites can also use it. “We made it so that it is a facility that, in the times of natural disaster, when the threat level is increase because of terrorism, it is multi-jurisdictional.”

According to Ceasrine, the maintenance costs – minimal heating, electricity – are estimated at about $10,000 to $13,000 per year.

“It gives us the opportunity to have assets positioned in the town of Galilee,” he said. “The beauty of this is that we don’t have any land acquisition costs.”

The facility is planned for land owned by the town adjacent to the Point Judith water tank. The $600,000 grant is non-matching – Meaning, the town does not have to put up any money in order to spend the $600,000.

The council approved accepting the grant by a 5-0 vote, and offered its thanks to Hoxsie and Ceasrine for their work on the proposal.

Fire, Public Service Union Contracts Approved

Also on Monday night, the council approved new contracts for the firefighters’ union and the laborers’ union, which covers mostly middle-level management.

The contract with the firefighters’ union covers from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013, retroactively settling a contract dispute and avoiding court for the union and the town.

“Clearing up the back docket on these things, you can add a couple hundred thousand [in savings] right there,” council Chris Wilkens said.

The net effect of the contract from July 2010 to June 2013 is a $175,365 savings for the town.

Town Manager Grady Miller said that the union made several important concessions to the town. The biggest change is the elimination of compensatory time, beginning on Dec. 1. The pension co-pay also increases from 9 percent this year, to 9.5 percent on Dec. 1, to 10 percent on Jan. 1, 2013.

In return, firefighters will receive a 2.5 percent lump-sum payment this year, to help defray the increased costs. It is a one-time payment, based solely on base pay. The total cost is estimated at $53,514.

Union members will also receive 1 percent pay increases on Dec. 1, 2011 and Jan. 1, 2013, and 1.5 percent increases on June 30, 2011 and June 30, 2013.

“I think they’ve really done a great job trying to work with the town, giving the financial situation we’re facing,” Miller said.

Councilor Alisa Trainor-Fleet added, “I’m glad that we came to a resolution.”

The contract was approved by a 3-2 vote. Hagopian and Wilkens voted against the contract.

The laborers’ contract was also approved, by a 4-1 margin, with Hagopian voting against. According to town officials, the net cost to the town will be $46,339. The contract covers July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2014.

Union members will receive cost of living wage increases of 1.5, 2 and 2 percent for each fiscal year of the contract. However, in return, several changes were made to the pension plan.

The contribution for employees increases to 9 percent in the first year of the contract, 10.5 percent in the second year and 11 percent in the third year. Also, depending on when an employee retires, the health care premium co-pay ranges from 10 percent to 15 percent.

For copies of both contracts, see the attached PDFs.

I'm Tired of the Games October 19, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Wilkens boggles the mind! He applauds the savings and votes against the deal like Hagopian? Anyways, this was an excellent settlement that doesn't cost the town between $300-500K in legal fees plus payout to six senior officers (losing their leadership experience) at an additional unbudgeted cost for a 1 year contract that expired in June 2009. This agreement avoid arbitration for a contract that would have expired in June of 2010. Who knows what that would have cost the Town in paying Mr. Kinder and the cost of any arbitration award. Congratulations to Mr. Miller, Mr. McSally and those firefighters who came up with this common sense solution.
Debra Puleo October 22, 2011 at 05:51 AM
Unions killing the state... massive unfunded pension liability in Narragansett.. who the hell gets raises every year in this economy:... it;s out of control!
john Doe October 22, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Not the fire dept. thats for sure they went 3 out of last 4 years no raises, check your facts before spouting off!
I'm Tired of the Games October 22, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Ms. Puleo: Your anger is misdirected. Why the massive unfunded pension liability in Narragansett? You simply have to look at the Loontjens & Ceasrine administrations who failed along with their finance directors to fund the pensions in the last decade! All with the blessing of the Handrigan councils who boasted about all the services they provide for such a low tax rate. Now we know how they did it! Buy not paying what was required into pensions. Heck, even in 2006 the Town Council voted to put some back in, but Ceasrine & Krugman didn't do it. Now the present Council is only funding to 63% according to the state auditor while employees continue to pay their 100% since day one. Remember Wilkens voted for the 2006 adjustment and sat quietly while the books were cooked. Now Ms. Hagopian wants to blame the employees for Council/Town mistakes which continue to this minute. Don't blame the unions, blame the administrators and politicians who did us all wrong!

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