NORTH SMITHFIELD – The Town Council unanimously approved a one year agreement with the union representing municipal staff this week that includes a salary increase of 48 cents per hour, and will result in a total added expense to the town of $25,823.

The contract with RI Council 94, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Local 937 is retroactive to July 1 of this year, and extends through June 30, 2021.

“I think this contract represents a good business opportunity for both the town and its employees,” said Town Administrator Gary Ezovski, recommending approval at a meeting on Monday, Nov. 16. “We gain some things. We also provide some things and as such, I think it is a fair and equitable agreement.”

According to a fiscal impact statement provided by the town’s budget committee, the total expense from the salary increase is $28,130. The contract also includes a fringe benefit increase of $5,364.

“I’m sure there are some in the public who would question providing raises to people as we’re struggling through this COVID circumstance and still unknown budget situation,” Ezovski said. “I say to any of them especially because of what has been happening this is appropriate. All of our staff have been here day in and day out and they’ve earned what’s in this agreement.”

The salary bump is a bit short of the 50 cent increases seen in previous years.

Concessions were made by the union in the deal in the area of employee contributions to health and dental benefits, which will increase from 10 to 12 percent, reducing the total impact of the contract by $8,445. The group’s contribution has been steadily increasing each year since 2014, when it was 6 percent.

The agreement covers union staff in town departments including public works, animal control, finance and more, along with civilian dispatchers in the police department.

“I agree with the administrator that these are the folks… they’re here every day,” said Town Council President Paul Vadenais. “Town Hall’s been open every day. It’s a fair deal.”

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