APT Asks Council to Limit Salary Increases in New Contracts

Tuesday, 02 March 2010
The Association of Portsmouth Taxpayers submitted a request to the City Council on February 24, 2010 to limit retroactive pay and pay increases in contracts that are yet to be negotiated.

Dear, Mayor and Councilors

The issue of city contract negotiations was discussed at a recent meeting of the Association and the members present requested I address the issue of pending contract negotiations at the next city council meeting. The subject matter became more relevant after a very recent vote by some city employees.

In this difficult economic time dealing with the FY 2011 city budget a group of city employees has rejected a request to give up wage increases which would have helped pass along savings to the community during this difficult budget process. We understand their contract was bargained in good faith and this addresses the reason we are sending this message.

The city has contracts which have yet to be negotiated and we feel this is a good time to include in negotiations, no retroactive pay and no increase in salaries for FY 2011 and possibly FY 2012. Many private and public companies including the state of New Hampshire have requested their employees give up COLA and raises, or layoffs are inevitable. Evidently the city employees who would not give up their Cola and raises feel the threat of layoffs of their fellow workers is nothing to worry about. If not this year definitely next year there will be layoffs and the need to enlarge classes, something the educational department says is not good for the children, will have to happen.

The fact that 84 to 85% of the city budget is salaries and benefits has to be the direction to look for cuts to keep this city economically viable. We have attended recent public hearings to see standing room only with residents wanting to keep all the services and benefits we presently enjoy. We are not contemplating layoffs, but most other communities have because they can no longer afford to continue to expect the taxpayers, who are already suffering from salary cuts, job losses and reduction in their benefits, to pay for ballooning taxes that seem to never reduce or level out.

As a note of encouragement we have many prominent city projects pending such as the Middle School renovation, water plant upgrade, parking garage proposals, third fire station, partial bridge to Maine, Sagamore bridge, several school renovations, athletic fields with necessary land purchase, pool renovations or recreational complex, acquisition of the federal building, just to name a few and the mother of all projects the sewerage treatment plant, which I understand could balloon a present water/sewer bill of $600 a year to $2400 per year, now add that to our already increasing taxes. All these projects, and some not listed here, are in the works but who is going to pay, the taxpayers and or our public employees, this now is your decision?

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