Police, city worker pacts put on hold until July 16

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It’s been a couple of months since police and municipal employee unions approved contracts that would carry them through the next three years, yet it won’t be until after their current employment agreements expire on June 30 before the City Council considers action on those agreements.

The contracts, negotiated by former Mayor Scott Avedisian, were docketed for action Monday, but deferred until the July 16 meeting. No such tentative agreement was reached with Warwick firefighters nor have there been any discussions with that union since Avedisian left office to take on the job of chief executive officer at the Rhode Island Transit Authority (RIPTA), Mayor Joseph Solomon said Tuesday.

Citing his attention to learning the ropes of the mayor’s job and concentration on the $316 million budget that the council passed Saturday, Solomon said he hasn’t had the time to focus on the contracts.

In his speech to Toll Gate graduates Tuesday and at the Pilgrim commencement Wednesday, Solomon described his first couple of weeks in office “a whirlwind.” Speaking of how quickly things can change, Solomon said, “One minute, I’m the City Council president, and an accountant and attorney in private practice, and the next I’m unexpectedly being sworn in as mayor – and during budget season, the busiest time of year for our government.” He added that his years in public service, community involvement and professional experiences “have prepared me for the challenges that come with being our community’s chief executive officer.”

City Council President Steve Merolla and Council Finance Committee Chairman Ed Ladouceur are both looking for more time to digest the agreements.

Mentioning the tentative agreement with police, Merolla said, “It references a contract from 1971.” Merolla hasn’t seen the 1971 contract. “I don’t even have a complete contract.”

“I’m not going to vote on them until I know what they contain,” said Ladouceur. He pointed out the agreements were negotiated by Avedisian and his people.

“The mayor and head of finance [Bruce Keiser] jump ship and I’m asked to make a decision on it in a couple of weeks…I don’t think so,” he said.

Ladouceur called the budget process stressful, pointing out that neither Avedisian nor Keiser were present to answer questions or give reasoning for the budget.

“We did a good job on a lousy hand,” he said.

Where does that leave municipal employees, police and firefighters?

Solomon said he expects to move forward when he has “the right financial people at the helm and ready.” At this point, however, he added, “I can’t make a promise on anything.”

The “maintenance” budget drafted by Avedisian takes into account raises for both municipal employees and police, as those tentative agreements had been reached. No such provisions have been budgeted for the firefighters and there is speculation, as talks broke off before Avedisian left office, that negotiations are headed to arbitration.

Police Col. Stephen McCartney said Tuesday the council’s failure to take up the police contract has fueled some discussion about retirements and has hurt morale. The Beacon was unable to make contact with FOP President Sgt. Jedidiah Pineau. According to Merolla, the FOP sent emails to all council members Tuesday expressing its disappointment and asking for their support.

Merolla told council members not to respond to the email as that could be considered a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Scott Small, president of Local 1651, Council 94 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, was disappointed yet understanding. He said he had been notified the council would not act on Monday. He said with the transition between mayor and the budget a lot is happening quickly.

“I think things are happening so fast that they need a little time…I don’t see anything bad going on…it’s got to be taxing on them,” he said.

Small said he informed his 287 members of the delay by email. As for the agreement, he called it “very simple” with less than a 3 percent raise for each of the three years plus some minor language changes. He said it was unanimously approved by the union on April 27.

“We’re going to stay positive,” he said. “We’re going to trust that they [the council and the mayor] honor the contract that was negotiated in good faith.”

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PaulHuff

I see a bunch of retirements happening in the next month.......

Thursday, June 7
richardcorrente

Remember when acting Mayor Joe Solomon refused to join then-Mayor Scott Avedisian in preparing this years budget?

I do. And I came out publically against that poor decision.

Remember how I said that, if I was an incoming acting-Mayor I would NEVER have done that?

The 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab... do.

Remember how I campaigned for 700+ days in a row and spent over $40,000 of my own money to rally those 80,000 taxpayers to demand that the City Council "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending"?

Thanks for remembering that as well.

Remember how it WORKED... and 29 tax-increasing amendments from Avedisian's 2017 budget were UNANIMOUSLY denied by the City Council?

Yeah,... I do too! That was a great day!

And so here we are today and we have 3 facts.

1. The acting mayor "didn't get involved" in writing the current budget.

2. The Council just passed a "maximum tax increase" (as described by The Warwick Beacon).

3. Contracts for Municipal employees, Police, and Firefighters are STILL not settled.

If it were me, I would have started the communication process last October. That's when we all knew that Avedisian was leaving. He had a birthday and was able to retire anytime after that, and collect 80% of his pay. Then, if he took another political-kickback job he could get the taxpayers to pay him millions of dollars over the next few years, and to no surprise, that is EXACTLY what he did!.

We NEEDED better communication in October, November, December etc. We just didn't get it and the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab are now paying a much bigger "tab".

For the record, I would have been involved from day one. That might not have made things much better but you have to admit, it couldn't have made things any worse.

The mess Warwick is in today is unfair to the Unions. It's unfair to the City Council and, most importantly, it's unfair to those 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the much-larger...tab.

Make no doubt about it. This is Joe Solomons' responsibility. The buck stops at the desk of the Mayor.

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, June 8
Scal1024

Rick, if you are taking credit for the City Council holding the line on taxes in '17, is it fair to assume you are taking the blame for this years MAXIMUM TAX INCREASE? You cannot have it both ways. You claim in '16 you "rallied" 80,000 "taxpayers" forcing the council to hold the line on taxes. Well it wasn't an effective "rally" since out of 80,000 RESIDENTS, only 13,000 voted for you (24,300 for the REAL MAYOR), and we are still getting a max tax increase this year. Thanks alot!!!

The reason Corrente has to make blatantly false claims like he has here, is because he has NO ANSWERS for how to fix our city. Its much easier for him to claim he's the reason tax rates were held in place last year, even though he so VERY OBVIOUSLY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. I have asked repeatedly for Rick Corrente to answer basic questions about his "plans". He CANNOT answer them. He can't tell you how much $ city workers would be offered to retire early as part of his voluntary pension buyout. He CANNOT tell you ONE LINE ITEM in the budget he would cut. He CANNOT tell you what taxes he'd lower, or how he'd even pay for tax cuts.

Corrente has NEVER been a serious candidate. If he was he would answer these questions, engage with voters about their concerns. Instead he attacks me over the use of a screen name. Why? Because he doesn't have ANY ANSWERS to help fix our city. His plan should really be titled "cut taxes, cut spending but don't you dare ask me how". This doesn't help lower our taxes, cut spending, fix our schools, reign in pension costs or clean up our beaches. All it does is serve this tax delinquents ego, making him believe he is a serious candidate. He is a fraud! I'd welcome Corrente to respond with REAL ANSWERS.

Name 2 line items (spending) in the budget you would cut?

How much $ would a city employee be offered to retire early? How many are eligible for a "pension buyout"? How many retirees are retirement eligible?

New taxpayers aren't arriving day 1. New taxpayers isn't an answer to the question of how we pay for these things. Will you be borrowing money to pay for these plans? Creating new spending? Or raising taxes?

Friday, June 8
WwkVoter

scal, I might suggest that 13000 voters obviously did not "vote for" corrente. those are the ones who vote Democrat without much additional thought. I bet if you asked most of them to look at the two candidates, they would have supported Avedisian even more hands down than they already did.

this guy had 25 people show up to his "fundraiser" and cant even pay his own taxes or admit the truth about city finances when when shown official sources. corrente is a mess. and really, a distraction. Warwick is at a fork in the road with how to move forward amid tightening budgets. We need the real professionals in place to make the best available choices, not some clowning around "perpetual candidate" who cant even show up to a budget hearing.

Friday, June 8
CrickeeRaven

Wow, Scal and WwkVoter, the make-believe mayor just continues to compound his previous lies by repeating them:

- "Remember how I campaigned for 700+ days in a row and spent over $40,000 of my own money to rally those 80,000 taxpayers to demand that the City Council 'Cut Taxes - Cut Spending'?"

No, like the two of you, I remember the make-believe mayor spending most of his time on the Beacon website lying to voters, holding what he called an "epic" fundraiser that cost almost as much as he collected in campaign donations, waving at passing cars from sidewalks, polluting neighborhoods with cheaply made signs, and ultimately getting defeated 65-35%.

I also remember very few speakers actually attending the FY18 budget hearings.

- "Remember how... 29 tax-increasing amendments from Avedisian's 2017 budget were UNANIMOUSLY denied by the City Council?"

No, like the two of you, I remember how the city council approved 29 amendments to Mayor Avedisian's budget that reduced it by $750,000, then went on to pass an FY18 budget that increased spending by $6.5 million, which mean he's lying about that.

And as we all know, he's been repeatedly claiming that his influence on the council let to tax and spending cuts, except the FY 18 budget increased both -- which means he's lying about that.

So, despite his repeated attempts to fool honest, taxpaying voters, the amendments to the FY18 budget were not proposed by Mayor Avedisian and the council's FY18 budget decisions increased both taxes and spending.

- "If it were me, I would have started the communication process last October. That's when we all knew that Avedisian was leaving."

Maybe you recall the make-believe mayor saying that "political insiders" were predicting Solomon would run for mayor -- when, in fact, it had already been published in the Beacon. Maybe these same imaginary "political insiders" knew as early as last October that Avedisian would be leaving the mayor's office and told the make-believe mayor. If they did, though, isn't it odd that he didn't say anything at the time, especially considering the nearly four-year political campaign that he's been running against the former mayor?

- "This is Joe Solomons' responsibility [correct spelling is "Solomon's," showing that he can't even use punctuation properly]."

No, the responsibility falls on all 9 members of the city council and the make-believe mayor, who -- despite Scal's correct evaluation -- insists on saying he was responsible for the council's FY18 budget. He and his fellow Democratic party members certainly deserve the blame for the FY19 budget.

And just one last note, WwkVoter: The 25 people were reported at the make-believe mayor's kickoff to the 2016 campaign. Last December when he announced his 2018 run, he had 15 people attend.

Friday, June 8
PaulHuff

Ladoucer and Merolla aren’t really credible when they say they haven’t “had time” to read the tentative agreements.

I’m sure all relevant sections are highlighted for them so there is the salary issue and then any changes in language. It’s probably one page of reading.

As for Merolla not having a complete copy.....a simple google search will get you the complete contracts. They are on the City website.

These two are grandstanding just a little too much......

Monday, June 11
Daydreambeliever

There grandstanding will cost them dearly and out the city in financial ruin.

They claim to be about the taxpayers well let’s see how this plays out.

Monday, June 11