RTM Agenda for January 8, 2019

Disclaimer: What’s below is my interpretation of the agenda and not an official communication from the RTM.  

SHORT SUMMARY:

The next RTM meeting is on Tuesday, January 8th at 7:30 pm in Town Hall (110 Myrtle Avenue).  You can watch the meetings on Cablevision channel 79, Frontier channel 99, or online here.  You can see the official agenda by clicking here.

The RTM will discuss the following issues:

  1. Whether to appropriate $70,000 for the conversion of the town hall boilers from oil to gas and the removal of the existing underground oil tank;
  1.  Whether to (a) take no action with respect to a 3-year contract between the Westport Board of Education and the Westport Education Association, in which case the agreement would become binding, or (b) reject the agreement, which would trigger arbitration between the parties; 
  1.  The first reading of an ordinance prohibiting the storage, disposal, or use of fracking waste or any products or by-products of fracking waste; and
  1. Whether to (a) take no action with respect to a police pension arbitration award or (b) reject the arbitration award, which would trigger review of the award by an arbitration panel or single arbitrator chosen by the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration;

The last agenda item – the RTM’s review of the Conservation Commission’s approval of an application for 187 rental units on Hiawatha Lane Ext. – will be continued to the February 5th meeting without discussion.  Instead, town attorney Ira Bloom will be summarizing Westport’s Waterway Protection Line Ordinance to provide the RTM with some additional background related to this agenda item.

 

DETAIL:

AGENDA ITEM #1:  Whether to appropriate $70,000 for the conversion of the town hall boilers from oil to gas and the removal of the existing underground oil tank

According to Director of Public Works, Peter Ratkiewich, the town would benefit in the following ways by converting the town hall boilers from oil to gas and removing the underground oil tank:gas to oil (2)

  • Reduced Operating Expenditures:  Mr. Ratkiewich estimated that the project would result in an annual cost avoidance of approximately $8,000 per year.
  • Extended Useful Life of the Current Boilers:  The proposed project would extend the useful lives of the boilers by 10-15 years.  The boiler replacement has been in the 5-year capital forecast in the amount of $190,000.
  • Avoid Costs Related to the Underground Oil Tank:  The proposed project would eliminate the need for the current underground oil storage tank.  This tank is due for replacement, which would cost around $200,000.   As part of the proposed project, workers would remove the current tank, which would eliminate potential legal liability due to oil leakage.

If the $70,000 appropriation is approved, the conversion project would be completed this spring.

 

AGENDA ITEM #2:  Whether to (a) take no action with respect to a 3-year contract between the Westport Board of Education and the Westport Education Association, in which case the agreement would become binding, or (b) reject the agreement, which would trigger arbitration between the parties

WEA BOEI authored the joint Finance, Education, and Employee Compensation Committee memo regarding this agenda item.  I encourage you to click here to read it.  This agenda item is significant because the professional agreement between the WEA and BOE has been – and under this agreement would continue to be – the single largest obligation of the town.

Any town or city legislative body has a statutory right to reject any collective bargaining agreement that has been agreed upon by the town’s teachers’ union and Board of Education.  This occurs rarely, however, and the three committees voted unanimously to recommend that the full RTM take no action with respect to the contract between the Westport Board of Education and the Westport Education Association.  If the RTM takes no action, then the agreement becomes binding.

 

AGENDA ITEM #3:  The first reading of an ordinance prohibiting the storage, disposal, or use of fracking waste or any products or by-products of fracking waste

As you may recall, at the RTM meeting on June 5, 2018, there was a first reading of a short ordinance that also prohibited the storage, disposal, or use of fracking waste and its products/byproducts:

02 Prohibitions.

1.     The application of natural gas waste or oil waste, whether or not such waste has received Beneficial Use Determination or other approval for use by DEEP (Department of Energy & Environmental Protection) or any other regulatory body, on any road or real property located within the Town for any purpose is prohibited.

2.      The introduction of natural gas waste or oil waste into any wastewater treatment facility within or operated by the Town is prohibited.

3.      The introduction of natural gas waste or oil waste into any solid waste management facility within or operated by the Town is prohibited.

4.     The storage, disposal, sale, acquisition, transfer, handling, treatment and/or processing of waste from natural gas or oil extraction is prohibited within the Town. 

The new proposed ordinance – which will be read into the record at the meeting – is significantly longer.  I’ve included it below as it appeared in our RTM materials packet.

Untitled design

The ordinance will be reviewed by the pertinent RTM committees before it comes back to the RTM for a vote.

 

AGENDA ITEM #4: Whether to (a) take no action with respect to a police pension arbitration award or (b) reject the arbitration award, which would trigger review of the award by an arbitration panel or single arbitrator chosen by the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration

westport-police-1501871891In an email included in the RTM packet regarding the police pension arbitration award, Floyd Dugas, the town’s outside counsel, wrote that it “would be foolish” for the RTM to reject the award.  That one sentence from Mr. Dugas’ email is the only opinion included in our RTM reading materials regarding the police pension arbitration award.   .

Based on my reading of the award, some of its more significant rulings include the following:

  • With respect to employees hired after July 1, 2017, the arbitrators ruled in favor of the town with respect to (a) requiring higher contributions to the hybrid pension plan from employees, (b) setting the earliest retirement age at 55 rather than 50, and (c) not including a cost of living adjustment to the defined benefit portion of the hybrid pension plan;
  • The arbitrators ruled in favor of the union that 81.25%, rather than 75%, of final average compensation is the maximum benefit of an officer upon retirement;
  • The arbitrators ruled in favor of the town that, for officers hired before July 1, 2017 but without 20 years of service as of July 1, 2017, (a) the survivorship benefit for spouses will be actuarially reduced rather than staying the same.  According to the arbitrators, the survivorship benefit in the previous contract was both “expensive” and “uncommon,” and (b) the cost of living adjustment will be capped at 2.75%.

The RTM has the option to “appeal” the arbitration award (by a vote of 2/3 of those present and voting) to a single arbitrator or panel of arbitrators chosen by the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration.  If the RTM takes no action with respect to the arbitration award, then the award is the final.

Disclaimer: This summary has been my interpretation of the agenda and not an official communication from the RTM.