Wenham Police Ink New Contract with 1.5% Raise and Payday Changes

The Wenham town government and police union expect to sign a new one-year contract on Monday.

Wenham police officers have a new one-year contract that gives them a 1.5 percent raise starting in January and a shift to bi-weekly paychecks.

The contract was agreed to by the Board of Selectmen last Tuesday and a ceremonial signing of the contract will happen on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. at .

Interim Town Administrator Mark Andrews said the contract agreement means a successful completion to one of the goals given to him at a retreat with Selectmen in June.

“It was one of the charges the Board of Selectmen gave me when I came on,” he said.

On Friday, Andrews said he could not yet release a copy of the contract because some of the details of it still needed to be cleaned up.

The union members include the full-time patrol officers and sergeants.

The previous three-year contract expired on June 30. In the previous contract, the town agreed to cover half the cost of the Quinn Bill, according to a report at the time in the Salem News. The Quinn Bill provides officers with college degrees additional pay. Half of the bill’s cost – which had been fully covered by state government - was cut at the time due to state budget cuts.

Andrews said the change in pay dates that are part of the new contract will result in a “significant savings in processing” and a change he hopes to eventually make for all town employees.

He said he has already reached out to the town’s AFSCME union, which represents workers and some other clerical employees, about agreeing to a switch to biweekly pay also.

The savings from the pay date changes will go towards the Board of Selectmen’s goal to “help this contract pay for itself.”

Andrews said he is also pursuing talks with the town's insurance carrier, Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, to take a closer look at the town’s insurance coverage of the fire and police departments. The move, he said, was brought about because the “plans had not been looked at in some time.”

The raises will cost about $3,500 for the final half of the fiscal year, from Jan. 1-June 30.

Because of the cost-saving measures Andrews said also come as part of the contract, he said it will not cost the town any additional money beyond what has been budgeted, Andrews said.

“We’re not going to ask the taxpayers for any more money than they approved at Town Meeting,” Andrews said.

The contract also changes the way full-time officers are compensated for working on one of the town’s 11 holidays, said Interim Police Chief Tom Perkins, during a combined interview with Andrews.

Currently, most holidays are covered by part-time reserve officers. But under changes that are part of the new contract, a full-time officer that works a holiday can take two days off for working the holiday.

“We’re trying to get more of a (staffing) balance without increasing our overtime costs,” Perkins said.

Those days off, he said, could be filled by reserve officers at a lower cost.

The arrangement, he said, will cost the same or less than the current staffing method.

Contracts for the town’s two other unions remain open, Andrews said. The AFSCME contract expired in June and the fire union’s contract expired on June 30, 2011.


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