PARIS — An arbitration decision granting raises to the town police is final, Town Manager Phil Tarr said at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
The Jan. 12 decision by arbitrator Ann Gosline said the town violated its contract with the Paris Police Department officers’ union to give officers a yearly 3 percent raise. The raise is retroactive to July 1, 2011.
Tarr said the board can’t appeal the decision.
The town is not obligated to both fund the pay raise and maintain the same level of staffing. Tarr said that means the department is seeing cuts in overtime and special reserve officers to cover the higher pay. He said Chief David Verrier is working patrol shifts to make up for the shortfall.
According to Gosline’s summary of the case, the town and police, represented by Teamsters Local 340, agreed in February 2010 on a yearly 3 percent raise in salaries for three years. At the June 18, 2011, town meeting, the approved budget for the Paris Police Department didn’t include the 3 percent raises. Someone made a motion to amend the budget to include it, a $9,530.22 increase, but voters rejected it.
Selectman Ted Kurtz pointed out at the town meeting that no town employee was getting a raise. He said the town had negotiated a contract provision in which raises depended on approval by town meeting voters.
Gosline disagreed. She said the town’s position would mean a waiver by the union on a key wage item, and that such a significant waiver would need “very specific language.”
Selectman Jean Smart said she was happy the department was getting raises. “I personally think, when we have a contract with someone . . . we should honor it.”