Union contract terms settled
In negotiations that were driven by a recently instituted cap on property tax increases, union and town officials came to terms on two new contracts for the island's police and public works employees.
The contracts, negotiated with the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) and NAGE 69, counts among its highlights a reduction in the town's healthcare costs as well as an increase in the number of police patrols per day.
In terms of public safety, the new contract calls for a minimum of two patrol officers for each eight-hour shift and an increase over the current staffing, which only requires two patrols during the second and third shifts.
The contract also eliminates patrolman staffing on dispatch, allowing the town to hire full-time civilian dispatchers for an estimated savings of $20,000 to $25,000 per year, while at the same time freeing up two additional shifts per week for added patrol duty.
In addition, the contract also makes room for another sergeant for day-shift supervisor, a position that will be filled through promotion in order to maintain the size of the force at fifteen officers.
In healthcare, both the IBPO and NAGE agreed to switch from Blue Cross Classic to Healthmate, increase outpatient co-pay for specialists, urgent care and emergency room visitation, and increase prescription drug co-pay from $2 to $5 generic and $10 name-brand. In return, the town agreed to provide for Delta Dental Level IV at a cost of $2,500 per year.
According to town officials, the plan modifications are estimated to reduce the town's Blue Cross premiums by 4 percent, or approximately $30,000 per year.
At no cost to the town or to police officers is an agreed upon 20-year pension plan. A key objective for the IBPO, Jamestown had been one of only three Rhode Island communities without a 20- year pension plan. The addition is seen as a key feature in keeping Jamestown competitive in recruiting qualified officers.
Additionally, police officers will be required to increase their salary contributions from 8 to 9 percent towards their cost of living adjustments (COLA) from 1 percent to age 55 and 2 percent thereafter to 3 percent annually.
Town Administrator Bruce Keiser described the deal as "a winwin" for the town and its workers.
"I think the police got what they wanted in terms of staffing and the 20-year pension, and I think the town got it in terms of controlling its spending," Keiser said.