Part of the disagreement between the mayor and Macdowall centers around a portion of the MOU that adds language offering lump-sum payments for up to 97 accrued sick days for retirees. “This contract is bonkers,” he said. “No layoffs for three years. We have to add two lieutenant positions…what is going on in the mayor’s office that they looked at this and thought it was a good deal?” Hamden more than 10 years ago switched pension plans due to affordability concerns, enrolling employees in the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System. The old plan had included the lump-sum payments, according to Macdowall.
“I really appreciate being able to work together with the Hamden police union to come up with a concessions package that saves the town over $1.5 million,” said Mayor Curt Balzano Leng. “There are times when there are well-intentioned and well-negotiated agreements that actually benefit everyone, and this is one of those times.” The union ratified the proposal in March, per the MOU.
But Brad Macdowall, a member of the Legislative Council and a mayoral hopeful, has serious concerns about the value of the deal. The Legislative Council will consider the proposed Memorandum of Understanding Wednesday evening, one day before deliberating the mayor’s proposed police budget. The current collective bargaining agreement, set to expire next year, would remain in effect until 2024 if the agreement were to pass.
The second-largest savings, worth roughly $200,000, would come out of a smaller cap on compensatory time, according to the analysis. The cost of adding positions is not included in the $1.7 million savings estimate, the mayor said, adding that the comparison could be difficult to make as additional staffing sometimes can reduce overtime. According to a cost savings estimate in the council’s meeting agenda, the bulk of the benefit for the town would come through the holiday pay clause under which officers would forfeit payment for 26 holidays over the next two years. That would save some $1.2 million, per the analysis, which is based on a 103-officer department.
“Implying that this concession package … costs us large sums of money in the future I think is fallacy,” he said, adding that the payments match benefits offered to other town employees. But even though the collective bargaining agreement did not include language specifying whether retirees under the CMERS plan would receive them, Leng said the lump-sum payments never went away.
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