City Council News

Police contracts add $876,000 in salary

increases, residency requirement for new hires

After more than two and a half years of negotiations, the City is on the verge of a new contract with its two police unions that will see pay increases of up to three percent and implement residency requirements for new hires.

Monday night, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino requested the City Council approve the contracts, which are retroactive to Fiscal year 2017. The Council forwarded the request to its subcommittee on conference, and will take up an official vote on the contracts at a future meeting.

The collective bargaining agreements are for the unions which represent police superior officers and patrol officers.

“Both deals encompass four years, made up of two separate contracts: a one year deal for FY17; and a subsequent three year deal for FY 19-FY20,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.

The contracts include a retroactive salary increase of 2.5 percent for FY17 and 3 percent for FY18 and FY19. There is also a 3 percent increase slated for FY20 and an additional 1 percent increase that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

All told, the retroactive salary increases total about $876,000.

“I strongly recommend that the City Council support these agreements, which have been the subject of lengthy negotiations spanning more than two and a half years,” Ambrosino stated. “We set aside in Salary Reserve for the resolution of these two agreements a total of $700,000. Accordingly, we will need an additional appropriation from Stabilization of $176,000 to satisfy these contractual commitments.”

The salary hikes are the only cost item in the new contracts, according to the City Manager. Other items in the contracts related to longevity, detail pay, sick leave incentive, and clothing allowance are limited to clarifications or minor changes and do not add any additional costs to the City, he added.

The percentage increases for salary are slightly more than those other City Hall unions have received, Ambrosino said.

“However, in return, the City did secure new language on residency upon which the City Council insisted,” he stated. “As of January 1, 2019, all new police hires must live in the City of Chelsea for five years, consistent with the Ordinance approved by the City Council earlier this year.”

While there was no debate over the union contracts themselves at Monday’s Council meeting, District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop did raise concerns about the City’s use of its stabilization, or “rainy day” funds.

Bishop noted that Ambrosino was requesting the use of stabilization funds for improvements to Eden Park and for a protective cover for the new high school turf field as well as for the contract salary costs.

Those stabilization funds should be used for emergency situations, Bishop said.

“I don’t think any of these requests rise to the level of an emergency to use the rainy day fund,” he said.

While Bishop said he supported the requests being made, he wanted assurances that any money taken out of the City’s stabilization funds be replaced by free cash as soon as those funds are certified by the state.

Outside graduation coming closer to a

resolution, decided Dec. 17

The Chelsea High School Class of 2019’s quest to graduate outside at the high school could come to a conclusion at the City Council’s next meeting on Monday, Dec. 17.

That’s when the Council is expected to vote on a $170,000 appropriation from the school stabilization account to pay for a  protective mat for the new turf field at the high school.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino made the request for the funds for the protective mat, which he said will allow for the use of the turf field for non-sporting events. The turf field comes with an eight-year warranty, but that warranty is voided if there are certain non-sporting uses on the field.

The possible purchase is good news for members of the high school’s senior class, who have been working with school and city officials, as well as fundraising, in an effort to have their graduation moved to the high school field.

Senior Manuel Teshe said the turf field cover will benefit the whole city, as well as students and their families attending the graduation.

“This investment is going to last for years,” he said. “If this is done, it is done for the city, and the future of the city is the students at Chelsea High School right now.”

Senior Class President Jocelyn Poste was one of a number of CHS students wearing “Dream Big” shirts who addressed the Council on Monday night.

“We are close to achieving our dream of graduating outside on our own field,” said Poste. “With the help of the City Council, this can be a possibility.”

School Supt. Mary Bourque also lent the students some support before the Council.

“This is a wise investment for our future and will have a positive impact on every generation here,” Bourque said.

District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia urged all the students present on Monday night to return with their friends on Dec. 17.

“I’m so incredibly proud of everything that was said tonight,” she said.

  • In other business, the Council approved a change in the zoning ordinance requiring tighter building controls in the Admiral’s Hill neighborhood.
  • Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda introduced an order requesting that the License Commission hold two recreational marijuana licenses for applicants that have a majority ownership consisting of Chelsea residents.
  • Ambrosino asked the Council to approve funding for renovations to Eden Park.

The majority of the renovations will be reimbursed through a state grant, the city manager stated.

“The proposed renovations of Eden Park include replacement of the playground’s rubber surfacing, introduction of new playground equipment, installation of a new water feature and splash pad, installation of new site furniture and lighting, and reconstruction of all site utilities,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the Council.

The total cost of the renovations is about $750,000, according to Ambrosino. The City Council appropriated $250,000 through the Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Improvement Program. Of the remaining $500,000, the City Manager said $400,000 should be reimbursed by the state.

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