By TRACEY Oâ€™NEILL
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWNâ€“The North Kingstown Town Council met Monday night in regular session, moving quickly through an agenda heavily weighted in consent items. Re-convening after executive session discussion regarding Collective Bargaining with Local 1033 and Real Estate Cell Tower Lease Negotiations, the Council readily approved amendments affecting town workers both union and non-union.
The Local 1033, RI Laborerâ€™s International Union contract extending retroactively from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015 was approved with NK Town Manager Michael Embury reporting substantial savings to the town via annual wage increase, longevity and healthcare reductions.
In a major change in longevity determination, an employee is no longer considered for salary step-up increases until completing eleven years in service. The previous first step was after seven years of full-time service to the Town. Graduated salary increases at 15, 20 and 25 years were also significantly reduced with the final two stages receiving a 50-percent adjustment. Employees will also see an increase in their out-of-pocket deductibles and co-pays, reducing the overall plan costs to the Town.
On the healthcare side, the term of service for retiree healthcare benefits was increased to 25 years as a full-time employee, a boon for the town and major concession on the part of the union.
Total savings for year one, based on sick leave changes in the contract, amounted to a $577,435 savings to the Town. Combined with additional reductions, the Town will save more than $600K in the first contract year.
â€śI have to thank the union Local 1033,
Embury said. They â€śgot it. They realized long-term structural change was necessary.â€ť
Embury went on to commend the union employees for their work on negotiating a successful contract. â€śFor a unit that has low-paid employees, to come up with $619,584 worth of savings in the first year is tremendous.â€ť
Changes were also made on the Townâ€™s side with an increase to 10-percent beginning in 2014 to the prescription contribution plan. The delayed start date grants the Town an opt-out, allowing for structural and healthcare plan changes prior to commencement.
The Part-Time Employees Salary and Wage Schedule was also amended for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, delineating hourly wages and schedules for non-union employees.
In additional contract negotiations, the Townâ€™s Recycling program, which recently received over $64,000 in revenue from the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Program (RIRRC) after generating 3017.97 tons of recyclable material, will see changes to its collection schedule and fees. Transitioning from the present manual collection method, the Town contracted with Waste Haulers, LLC for an automated collection system, replacing the current bins with 96 gallon, wheeled carts. Upon implementation, collection will take place every two weeks for those residents who currently receive curbside service. The new containers will be purchased and distributed by the Town and will remain town property.
The Town will be providing informational material to residents prior to the programâ€™s start. Schedule and recyclable materials will be included.
Also approved by the Council was an application by Quidnessett Country Club to construct and maintain a steel sheetpile retaining wall.
The next scheduled meeting of the NK Town Council is September 24, 2012.