Personnel costs are a large part of the Town budget. The union contract is due to expire. See, Health Insurance: Town Pays More Than 100% Of Employee Premiums For Silver Plans and Town Budget - Collective Bargaining Negotiations. A special meeting of the Selectboard is scheduled for SUNDAY, December 3.
Here are seven questions I plan to pose to our Town Manager. I hope to publish his response.
1. Approximately what percent of the Town budget relates to personnel costs?
2. How many full time equivalent [FTE] workers does Norwich employ? How many Norwich FTE workers are covered by a union contract?
3. The Selectboard has met in executive session last Wednesday and is scheduled to met again on Sunday regarding the “Negotiated Agreement”. Is that about the expiring contract with the union representing police and DPW workers? If not, what does that agenda item refer to?
4. The term “Negotiated Agreement” seems like a unspecific disclosure to the public of the subject matter. Why was that term used as a agenda item description?
5. How do health insurance benefits provided by the Town to police and DPW workers compare with such benefits provided to similar employees in other Upper Valley municipalities? Has there been a study or any research on the topic recently? Is that study or research available to the public?
6. The Open Meeting law limits executive session to matters that "premature general public knowledge would clearly place the public body or a person involved at a substantial disadvantage" [emphasis added]. The Selectboard has allocated 90 minutes to discussing the Negotiated Agreement in the past week. That seems a long time to discuss negotiating strategy. Will the Town be more transparent and disclose the specific topics to be discussed or have been discussed on Sunday and last Wednesday?
7. Does the Town intend to follow the example of the Norwich School Board and conduct collective bargaining negotiations in public session? Why or why not?