Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Finance Committee, May 06, 2024

Collective Bargaining Agreements Update

The committee discussed the status of collective bargaining agreements with town employee unions. Two agreements were reached with the RLPA (professional librarians union) and AFSCME (public services employees). The major points of these agreements include a 3% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for each year in the deal, market adjustments, stability adjustments, changes to EMD certification stipends, and a one-time July holiday for this fiscal year. The agreement also proposed changes to the application of personal days for librarians to reward attendance rather than punish the usage of sick time.

The remaining funds totaling $620,854 from the salary reserve account have been reserved for potentially the SEIU group during town meeting time. No agreements were reached with public safety unions, and arbitration is pending with the JLMC (Joint Labor Management Committee).

Key Sticking Points and Liability Concerns

The committee discussed sticking points in negotiations, and member Carolyn inquired about significant hurdles preventing agreements, particularly with public safety unions. The deputy town manager indicated that financial aspects were the major sticking points as salaries in neighboring communities tend to be higher. Moreover, concerns were raised about potential liability buildup as parties worked without a contract.

Potential Outcomes and Motions

The committee considered the outcomes of failed negotiations, with a recognition that any settlements may retroactively utilize the remaining funds. Members prepared for the possibility of another one of these meetings if an agreement is reached with SEIU. A motion was passed for Article 65, confirming favorable action on the terms provided by the deputy town manager, and a vote was successfully accomplished to finalize this decision.

Salary Reserve Account and the Overridden Reserve Fund

A discussion regarding the salary reserve account and its relationship to the fiscal stability of the town occurred. There was clarification needed regarding the numbers to ensure the accuracy of the report and the budget balance. The initial anticipated amount for salary reserve was $1,107,282, but after the agreements, only $486,428 would be needed.

Adjustments and Decisions

The remaining salary reserve after the agreements would lead to adjustments in Article 64 for the overridden reserve fund. A vote passed for a bottom line number of $4,284,790, which is necessary to balance the budget for FY 2025 through FY 2027.

Capital Planning Committee Corrections

There was a correction to the report from the capital planning committee regarding Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. References to incorrect numbers in the report needed adjustment due to a miscommunication in the anticipated sidewalk line funding, which stood at $100,000 instead of the reported $125,000.

Clarification and Processing Errors

Members discussed the necessity of addressing the discrepancy in their report due to printing issues, with a final adjusted number concluded to be $4,590,2000, reduced by $25,000.

Five-Year Plan Discrepancy

Lastly, a discrepancy was identified in the capital five-year plan concerning the tax impact and offset numbers. Although no immediate resolution occurred, it was agreed that before the town meeting starts, the five-year plan would need to be redone to incorporate the latest changes and ensure accuracy in reporting.



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