Tiverton Police Union Contract Ratified
Tiverton's police officers, who have been working without a contract since 2008, reached an agreement with the town that was ratified at Monday's Town Council meeting.
Town officials called its agreement with the Tiverton police officer's union fair, after its ratification on Monday night.
Tiverton Police officers, which Town Administrator James Goncalo pointed out had been working without a contract or raises since 2008, took concessions in healthcare copays, restructured its pension plan and increased the number of years worked before retirement.
"This contract will save town 26 percent in healthcare premiums in addition to the fact that it more than doubles their copay in the process," said Goncalo. "Another significant item is that we have been able to extend their retirement to 25 years for all employess. It has been 20 years, as of July 1 2012, it is 25 years."
Another major accomplishment of the agreement is that is is starts to close the gap in the union's critically underfunded pension system. Accoding to Goncalo, the system is less than 60 percent funded.
The fund wil start to balance, as the town will increase its annual contributions to the fund from $550,000 to $700,000 and making additional one-time contributions each year to make up for losses in past years.
"This will have the plan emerging from critical status in eight years," said Goncalo.
Resident Donna Cook questioned the town's decision to continue funding a pension system that she said is unaffordable to taxpayers.
"I question, with the economy the way it is, it seems to me - has anyone ever thought of using 401ks and not pensions," asked Cook. "We just can't afford pensions anymore and it needs to be changed over to 401ks."
Council members said an abrupt change in retirement benefit systems is cost prohibitive, but by installing employee increases into the pension system, it would alleviate the burden on taxpayers.
"That's what's going on in these long executive sessions," said Councilman Robert Coulter. "We have put hours upon hours into these contracts. Each of these major contracts is a building block, if you will, into the long-term financial planning that we have been trying to do."