Let’s Not Forget the Larger Problem

Tiverton resident Jay Lambert makes a good point in a letter in the latest edition of the Sakonnet Times:

According to Mr. Medeiros, the lack of a contract with the teachers “is actually the result of the union refusing to accept the (financial) challenges we all face.” This seems to be the view of several members on the Town Council.
Stated bluntly, the teachers shouldn’t get a raise because of the town’s financial mess. I think we can all fairly assume that the town’s financial mess certainly will not affect the salary of Mr. Medeiros, or anyone else on the Town Council. So much for challenges we all face.
By coincidence, at the Dec. 17 meeting, the town administrator presented a town-side proposal budget that represents a 13.5 percent increase from last year. And we haven’t even heard about the school-side budget. Doesn’t Mr. Medeiros’ argument really beg some questions? How did we get into this financial mess? Why are town officials talking to themselves about skyrocketing tax increases for the indefinite future? Why don’t we have a broadened tax base? Why don’t we have more commercial and industrial properties instead of the boarded-up buildings, empty storefronts and “for sale” signs on Main Road? At present, we can’t even get a grocery store to move into our town. Most importantly, what are our elected officials doing to get us out of this mess?

I’d suggest that it is not, actually, fair of Mr. Lambert to assume that the council members are not affected by the town’s problems. It’s a part-time council, don’t forget, and I don’t believe (although I could be wrong) that it comes with a pay check.
But that slight adjustment has no effect on the larger point: Restraining the teachers’ union has to be one component of the solution to budget problems. Municipal leaders can’t expect standing symbolically firm against it to suffice.
Admittedly, I multitask at the Town Council meetings, so I periodically miss a word or two, but I’ve yet to hear the word “relief” spoken with respect to local taxpayers, although I have heard it stated as simple fact that lower property values, and the subsequently lower property tax revenue, require tax rates to be raised.
Townspeople contribute to the local atmosphere, too, of course, and we’ve all got an obligation to figure out ways to make our town as safe a haven as it will be possible to find during Rhode Island’s coming Dark Era. I’ve faith in at least some of the councilors to listen.

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Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

Can someone explain to me why it is that teachers (and police and firefighters, for that matter) feel that they are immune from any and all financial realities facing THEIR employer, and come hell or high water, they are ENTITLED to a raise each and every year?

WillP
WillP
13 years ago

“Restraining the teachers’ union has to be one component of the solution to budget problems. Municipal leaders can’t expect standing symbolically firm against it to suffice.” Justin, Couldn’t agree more, especially given: 1) Per NDN 12/26/07 – proposed municipal raises (all 4% or more), Department of Public Works director increase from $73,161 to $80,000 Fire chief increase from $73,219 to $76,880, Tax assessor increase from $62,750 to $65,900, Building official increase from $53,025 to $56,000 Senior center director increase from $43,931 to $46,127. Part-time tax collector salary increase from $29,000 to $30,160 2) Per NDN on 09/12/07 – police contract settlement (raises over 3% annually and co-shares less than the teachers currently pay and no where near the 15-20% paid in private industry), Tiverton police officers are looking forward to their paychecks that will contain 14 months of retroactive salary increases. The 26 members of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 406, last Thursday re-ratified a new three-year contract that gives them salary increases totaling 10 percent and increased health-insurance co-shares. The contract calls for police who have either a family or single health-care plan to pay $800 per year, or double the $400 they have been paying. In year three of the contract, the cost for the employee will increase to $900 annually. 3) Per NDN 01/04/07 – Superintendent William Rearick told the committee and spectators that one way to cut the fiscal 2009 budget without affecting programs is to erase a proposed 2 percent salary increase for teachers. The move would save $237,000 (why just the teachers). I do realize that the teachers at the lower steps could potentially still get step increases, but since the proposal is to freeze “salary increases,” which only affects the top-level teachers, why stop there? Why not also freeze the salary… Read more »

WillP
WillP
13 years ago

“I do realize that the teachers at the lower steps could potentially still get step increases, but since the proposal is to freeze “salary increases,” which only affects the top-level teachers, why stop there?”
Clarification here- I do realize that lower steps would be impacted by a salary increase freeze as well, but they would still get “increases” due to the steps (unless contract is radically changed). In the proposal on the table, teachers at the top steps would get zero increase to protect programs. Why would the Super propose stopping there, that should only be one salary componenet of the fix?

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