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By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff
Posted Oct 30, 2008 @ 10:35 PM


After sometimes "frustrating" negotiations, the town and its police union signed a three-year contract this week, said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting and Police Association President John Maloney.
"Overall, once we worked certain issues out - we definitely weren't happy with the process or sequence of events - but at the end, it's a pretty fair contract," said Maloney.
Nutting also called the contract (currently in memorandum of understanding form only) "fair" and in line with agreements other unions have with the town.
"I think it was a fair deal for everybody involved," said Nutting, adding that part of his aim was to ensure equality among public employees.
The deal is retroactive to June 2007, when the last one expired.
The new contract, which expires in June 2010, gives officers a 2 percent raise retroactive to October 2007, a 2.5 percent raise as of October 2008 and a 3 percent raise in October 2009, Nutting said.
Sergeants' pay will increase to 17 percent above the top patrol officer salary step in the first year of the contract, to 18 percent in the second year, and to 19 percent above in the third year.
As a money-saving measure, the police union, as all other unions in town for this round of collective bargaining, agreed to delay the start of the fiscal year from July 1 to Oct. 1, Nutting said.
"They realize times are tough and they can (accept) a little less," said Nutting.
Officers also gave back a personal day, he said.
Franklin's police union is composed of 41 officers, including 32 patrolmen and nine sergeants, Maloney said.
As far as the reason behind the delayed agreement, Nutting said, "Some unions just take a lot longer to negotiate than others."
Union members found it "frustrating" that town officials "a lot of the time had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude," Maloney said.
"The word 'negotiate' doesn't apply," he said.
One sticking point was over an undisclosed grievance the union had with the town, Maloney recalled.
The union had taken all the appropriate steps required by contract and was at the arbitration level, he said.
"When we negotiated for a contract, a number of items were contingent upon dropping the grievance. That didn't go over well," he said.
"At the end, we ended up doing it, because the way the economy is, to get a 2 or 3 percent raise is good. Two, 3 percent aren't bad raises at all," Maloney said.
The sergeants got a well-deserved pay raise, Maloney said, noting they were well below the average of 26 comparable communities.
Twenty towns paid their sergeants more than Franklin did, and 13 paid their officers a higher rate, Maloney said.
The average community pays sergeants 21.5 percent more than its top-step patrolmen, and Franklin's gap was only 15 percent, he said.
The new contract gives them 19 percent above the top paid patrolmen, Maloney said.
"It's still below the average, but it's closing the gap," he said.
The police union also signed a side letter concerning detail work, saying they get "first bite at the apple," Nutting said.
"It (had the function of) more memorializing what was going on than changing" the agreement, he said.
The two parties agreed to a detail rate increase of $4 an hour for both public and private work, Nutting said.
Police still give Franklin "the hometown discount" of $5 an hour, he noted.
"The good news is, if you look at the history from fiscal 2003 to this September, the town paid $131,000 in details, and we collected $183,000 in administrative fees" from private entities like Verizon, who pay a 10 percent surcharge for administrative overhead, Nutting said.
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