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Board eyes rejection of salary hike.

Byline: Janet Stoica

DOUGLAS - The Board of Selectmen April 2 struggled with denying 1 percent salary increases to non-union town employees in view of the town's fiscal 2014 budget crunch. Chairman Timothy Bonin's reading of his prepared statement recommended diverting the 1 percent increases to the OPEB account (Other Post-Employment Benefit liability trust fund) to bolster the town's bond rating status for future borrowing needs.

Selectmen Hal Davis was concerned with employee morale if the 1 percent raises were denied and Selectman Michael Hughes agreed. Union employees such as teachers and police would not be affected by the salary increase denial due to union contracts. About 40 non-union town employees would be affected for a total annual savings of approximately $15,000. Town Administrator Michael Guzinski stated that "my concern is that 20 percent of our town employees would be affected by the lack of equity for the relatively small savings impact, but whatever the board decides, I will go forward and present this to the Finance Committee."

The Board then voted to defer to the Finance Committee, which will be meeting at 7 p.m. April 8 at the Douglas Municipal Center.

Mr. Guzinski recited a line item review of all articles that will appear on the May special town meeting and annual town meeting warrants. He began his summary by stating that most line items were level-funded or reduced with exceptions as follows: a 1.5 percent cost-of-living salary increase for police union employees, 1 percent for all other union employees including teachers, and 1 percent for all other town (non-union) employees; an increase of $5,000 in veterans' benefits as mandated by state law; and a $208,829 increase in the school department budget. Mr. Guzinski also noted a $575,000 savings in town health insurance costs due to town and union negotiations, which involved a premium decrease. He thanked all town employees and unions for their help in the savings process.

All other line items were contingent upon the Proposition 2-1/2 override in the amount of $1,400,000 and they included Board of Health office hour decreases; $800,000 for the school department; financial software to replace the current DOS-based 15-year-old software that is incompatible and unsustainable with existing operating software; emergency intercom replacement for the primary school; replacement of the 20-year-old Jaws of Life hardware used by the Fire Department; replacement of police cruiser laptops; purchase of a DPW plow/pickup truck; and replacement of two police cruisers.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 5, 2013
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