Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


September 17, 2009

Solving a budget puzzle: Emergency funds for schools, no leaf pickup among proposals


In past budget discussions, both selectmen and Stapczynski have shied away from touching the town's rainy day monies, noting that it offers a short-term, one year fix.

Unions differ on concessions

Despite renewed efforts from town and school leaders to negotiate pay concessions, it appears the unions representing teachers and firefighters don't plan on budging.

Firefighters, the Andover Education Association and town employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are the only employee groups in Andover who so far have resisted pleas to forgo any of their 3.5 percent cost-of-living raises this year.

On Monday, Stapczynski said he and AFSCME representatives are "working very hard" to come to an agreement, and he may have something to announce soon. AFSCME membership includes town Public Works and Plant & Facilities employees.

The School Committee sent a letter earlier this week to AEA president Tom Meyers, urging the union representing teachers, instructional assistants, licensed practical nurses and secretaries to give up 1 percent of members' 3.5 percent cost-of-living raises this year. Such a concession is expected to save the School Department $421,612.

AEA's approximately 50-member executive board voted against opening up its contract for renegotiation in a near unanimous vote, said Meyers.

On the municipal side, it appeared early last week that the firefighters union was headed toward an agreement with the town to accept a raise of 2.5 percent instead of 3.5 percent.

But the potential agreement hinged on solving a grievance over ladder truck staffing, according to firefighters union President Thomas Agnew.

Because Stapczynski has decided not to restore the two-man ladder truck team that was broken up in July to cut down on department overtime costs, Agnew said the union has filed for an independent arbitration hearing.

Agnew said the loss of the ladder aide position endangers firefighters and violates their contract. Barring the restoration of the position, he said any pay concession is unlikely.

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