Friday, October 16, 2009
Lavery shows leadership, Tesei does not
To the editor: It is deeply disappointing that Wednesday evening's debate at Eastern Middle School was the last before the November election......
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jimmyweeks : Italian American accolades: Greenwich Hospital President and CEO, Frank A. Corvino honored in Columbus Day parade http://bit.ly/4gH2tH
greenwichpost : One more quarter to play at Trumbull...Greenwich up 23-0.
greenwichpost : Greenwich's Ferrara catches fourth down throw from Lefflbine and runs 26 yard for score and 23-0 lead with 6:36 to play in third.
greenwichpost : Greenwich's Colin Dunster with 70 yard punt return for touchdown with 4:54 left in the half. 13-0 Cards.
greenwichpost : Greenwich football gets on the board first against Trumbull. Lefflbine goes 1 yard for the TD with 7:20 to play in the half.
missmotorcade : i so needed this mani/pedi...and the wine Marjorie is feeding me :) (@ Empy's Day Spa in Greenwich) http://bit.ly/2bubZU
Multi_Sport : Going for a ride outside at 6am from Greenwich for 3 hours.
jimmymcdonald : Greenwich Has Got Talent show is tonigh and tomorrow!!! Omg I'm sooooooo nervous!!! This is my shot at the big time! I need a new hometown.
greenwichpost : In #Greenwich, #Family #ReEntry celebrates 25 years of reaching out http://bit.ly/1tgzZs
greenwichpost : Go #Wild! draws more than 2,000 visitors to #protected #fields in #Greenwich http://bit.ly/3rS2HQ
missmotorcade : holy line out the door! at least half ordered pumpkin spice lattes @jessisjuicy (@ Starbucks - Greenwich & Havenmeyer)
greenwichpost : Beantown or bust for #Greenwich Crew. http://bit.ly/2uQau4
greenwichpost : #Greenwich election '09: #Theis, #Marzullo keep it friendly http://bit.ly/Eeyac
canaiden : Greenwich Orthopaedic Foundation for Active Lifestyles hosts its 5th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser: The Orthopaedi.. http://bit.ly/2oGO0O
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|Greenwich police open trust fund for officer battling ALS|
"It just hit me and you feel so helpless," said Schneider, whose business is located in Greenwich and Rowayton. "That's when I thought, what if we did a ...
|"Horst On View" At Design Within Reach, 86 Greenwich Ave.: Free ...|
Horst's fashion and portrait photography career spanned 60 years, and many of his black and white photographs are instantly recognizable. Design Within Reach.
Greenwich On The Cheap - http://www.greenwichonthecheap.com/
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|Greenwich Jewelry Turns to Cash as Gold Reaches $1000 an Ounce|
By Tom Moroney and Brian K. Sullivan Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The people of Greenwich, Connecticut, the hedge-fund capital of the US, know a golden ...
|Greenwich, Trumbull meet in battle of football unbeatens|
By Jesse Quinlan The calendar reads mid-October, but for all the anticipation surrounding tonight's showdown between the Greenwich and Trumbull football ...
|Sacred Heart edges Greenwich Academy in five games in key FAA volleyball match|
That's not the case with the Convent of the Sacred Heart and Greenwich Academy volleyball teams. The schools began playing when the Tigers formed a varsity ...
|Greenwich Tournament : Staples Boys Water Polo|
By Ilene Schachter Mirkine
Greenwich Tournament. October 16, 2009 by Ilene Schachter Mirkine. Please mark your calendars, this tournament originally slated for Fri 10/30 and Sat 10/31 will likely now extend into Sunday 11/1. Schedule TBD. ...
Staples Boys Water Polo - http://boyswaterpolo.staplesswimming.com/
|Greenwich Roundtable on Equity, Inflation & More|
A look inside one of alternative investment's best kept secrets: the Greenwich Roundtable.--- Read More Topics: Federal Reserve
ITalkCash.com - Forum for financial... - http://www.italkcash.com/forum/
|Author's Favorite Posts. – Frank Trotta|
Uncivil Civics: Driving to work, contemplating what I should write for my first Our Greenwich.com "blog, I noticed dueling signs on Valley Road. Travelling west, on the left (appropriately) was a house with an Obama sign and directly ...
Frank Trotta - http://ourgreenwich.com/franktrotta/
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It is possible to send out a e-mail to the local press that we have
canceled the beach cleanup scheduled for tomorrow due to the wind and rain.
Sorry for the inconvenience!!
Marine Biology Teacher
Greenwich High School
10 Hillside Road
Greenwich, CT 06830
Phone: 203.625.8000 ext 8203
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special ed in this community. Greenwich parents have had to sue this
town at such a high rate to get their special ed kids properly
educated under the federal guidelines.
There is a pervasive attitude, like insurance companies, to deny
parents labels (thus hold back services) to keep costs down.
If you're interested in knowing more about this, please e-mail me.
Thanks so much,
RAIN OR SHINE!
Join us for an afternoon of family fun at the Western Greenwich Civic
Center - inside if the weather is bad.
A little rain can't wash away Glenville School's spirit!
The Glenville School PTA is pleased to announce that our annual fall
fair, the Harvest Party, will take place Saturday Ocober 17th as planned
from 12-4. In the event of rain, we are moving everything inside the
Western Greenwich Civic Center (the corner of Pemberwick Rd and Glenville Rd)
including the Challenger Obstacle Course and the Human Hamster Balls!
We are pleased that our rain contingency
plans allow us to continue all of our plans to provide families a fun
afternoon to play and enjoy a day out. In addition to the obstacle
course and hamster balls, we have many games planned including the potty
toss and balloon boom blasters. We guarantee the afternoon will be fun
for all! We also have a bake sale, food, raffles and pumpkins -
something for everyone, so stop by and join us for an afternoon of fun
The Glenville School PTA is committed to providing high quality,
curriculum related enrichment programs to our students and assisting our
wonderful staff in building future leaders, one student at a time. All
proceeds from our Harvest Party benefit our mission and our school.
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The Board of Education received the arbitration award for the GOSA
contract today. The award is attached, please find a summary below.
Board member, Steve Anderson is the contact for Negotiations on the Board
----- Original Message -----
Arbitration Award Summary
Due to an inability to successfully reach agreement on a new contract in
negotiations or mediation, the Board of Education (BOE) and the Greenwich
Organization of School Administrators (GOSA) entered into arbitration as
required per Connecticut state statutes.
The Arbitration Award was received on October 16, 2009. The arbitration
process in Connecticut is "last best offer, issue by issue."
The Arbitration Awards were:
Length of Contract:
years (July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013) (GOSA)
General Wage Increase (GWI):
Year1: 1.50% (GOSA),
Year 2: 1.25% (BOE),
Year 3: 1.75% (BOE)
Move to High Deductible Health Savings Account (HD HSA) Town plan
effective January 1, 2012, eliminate Anthem PPO and POS (BOE)
Proration of salary:
Reinstate part administrator / part teacher pay scale (BOE)
STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
In the Matter of Binding Arbitration ) Hearing Dates: September 3, 2009
) September 27, 2009
Greenwich Board of Education ) Close of Hearings: September 28, 2009
Greenwich Organization of School Administrators ) Award Date: September 16, 2009
For the Greenwich Board of Education – Shipman & Goodwin LLP
For the Greenwich Organization of School Administrators - Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, LLC
For the Town of Greenwich – Town Administrator John M. Crary
Richard H. Kosinski, Chairman
John Romanow, Representative of the Interests of Local and Regional Boards of Education
James Ferguson, Representative of the Interests of Exclusive Bargaining Representatives of Certified Employees
DECISION AND AWARD
I. NATURE OF THE PROCEEDING
This interest arbitration proceeding arises out of the negotiations between the Greenwich Board of Education (GBE) and the Greenwich Organization of School Administrators (GOSA) for a successor collective bargaining agreement to become effective July 1, 2010. The parties were unable to reach agreement on all of the issues related to the terms of a successor agreement and therefore proceeded to arbitration in accordance with the Teacher Negotiation Act (TNA).
II. ITEMS OF AGREEMENT
The items of agreement the parties have reached prior to the issuance of this decision are contained in Appendix 1.
III. THE STATUTORY CRITERIA
In deciding the issues in dispute in this arbitration proceeding, the Panel is guided by the Teacher Negotiation Act (“TNA”) as follows:
In arriving at a decision, the arbitrators or the single arbitrator shall give priority to the public interest and the financial capability of the town or towns in the school district, including consideration of other demands on the financial capability of the town or towns in the school district. In assessing the financial capability of the town or towns, there shall be an irrebuttable presumption that a budget reserve of five per cent or less is not available for payment of the cost of any item subject to arbitration under this chapter.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-153f(c)(4). The panel must also consider the following criteria in light of these two priority factors:
(A) The negotiations between the parties prior to arbitration, including the offers and the range of discussion of the issues; (B) the interests and welfare of the employee group; (C) changes in the cost of living averaged over the preceding three years; (D) the existing conditions of employment of the employee group and those of similar groups; and (E) the salaries, fringe benefits, and other conditions of employment prevailing in the state labor market, including the terms of recent contract settlements or awards in collective bargaining for other municipal employee organizations and developments in private sector wages and benefits.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-153f(c)(4).
IV. FINDINGS OF FACT
a. Economic Conditions in General
On December 8, 2008, a New York Times blog reported that the nation was experiencing its worst economic downturn since the end of World War II. Over approximately the past 14 months, a number of the nation’s financial institutions have collapsed, respected investment firms have gone bankrupt and the country has suffered some of the largest bank failures in U.S. history. Credit markets froze. Congress has spent billions of stimulus dollars to open credit markets and stabilize the economy.
In 2008, the New York Stock Exchange experienced a loss of about $7 trillion. On September 29, 2008, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index (the “S&P index”) had plunged nearly 9% in a single day -- its third-biggest decline since WWII. In October 2008, the stock market had its worst week in over 75 years, with both the S&P index and the Dow Jones industrial average losing 18% of their respective values. The S&P index lost 39.5%, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 33.8% and blue chip stocks lost 65% of their respective values during the “Crash of 2008.” The market has gained back some of these losses, but prospects for further recovery in the near future remain uncertain.
A January 26, 2009 New York Times editorial opined that the decline of the stock market had erased billions of dollars in individual retirement savings and there then was no indication that the pain would abate anytime soon. Data show that individuals’ net worth fell from $62.6 trillion at the end of 2007 to $50.4 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2009 (1Q09). Investments underlying 401(k) and other retirement plans have been slow to recover. Companies have ended matching contributions in order to cut their costs.
Home prices in November 2008 dropped 18.2% from a year earlier Home prices declined 6.1% in the year ending in 2Q09. New home construction fell 15.5% from November to December 2008, the slowest pace since 1959, the first year records were kept. A January 5, 2009 article stated that the Urban Land Institute predicted 2009 would be the worst year in commercial real estate since the market’s depression in 1991-92. An August 19, 2009 article stated that growing unemployment threatens to “send even higher the number of borrowers who will lose their homes,” and that economists estimate that 1.8 million borrowers will lose their homes this year, up from 1.4 million in 2008. As of the end of 2Q09, the delinquency rate for mortgages on one-to-four unit residential properties reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 9.24%, the highest rate since 1972.
As of August 2009, the national unemployment rate, seasonably adjusted, had reached 9.7% and, as of September 2009, there had been 604,650 layoffs at the nation’s largest companies since November 2008. An August 2009 Connecticut Center of Economic Analysis (CCEA) Outlook stated that the then unemployment rate of 9.4% “hides the reality that labor force participation dropped nearly a half million and the work week shrank.” According to the report, once these factors were considered, the then unemployment rate spiked to near 12%, the highest since World War II.
As of August 15, 2009, the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose, suggesting that employers continue to lay off employees. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the nation had a record low 2.4 million job openings in July 2009, the fewest since the department started tracking the figure in 2000, and half the peak of 4.8 million in mid-2007. Employers have eliminated 6.9 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. As of August 2009, people who were out of work had been unemployed for an average of 24.9 weeks, near the highest level since the Department of Labor began tracking the figure in 1948. At 4.98 million, the number of people unemployed longer than 27 weeks was at its highest level since WWII. As of January 15, 2009, companies not laying off workers had reduced work force costs in other ways, including reduced hours and wage freezes.
On September 15, 2009, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke predicted that the recession was “from a technical perspective . . . very likely over.” Vince Reinhart, a former Fed staffer now at the American Enterprise Institute, has characterized Mr. Bernanke’s comments as being more about arithmetic than anything else. Reinhart said, “All that tells you is that market economies do not stay in free fall. That doesn’t tell you that we have a durable expansion in motion, it doesn’t tell you growth is assured in 2010 and it doesn’t tell you that the unemployment rate goes down.” .
One recent study concluded that once a new normal sets in after this recession ends, Americans will spend at about 86% of their pre-downturn level. One economist described the situation as follows: “The recession’s probably over. But as long as unemployment rates are rising and consumers don’t spend, it won’t feel like it.” Another economist stated “Unless businesses curtail their job cuts, the recovery could well peter out.”
42 states lost jobs in August, compared to 29 in July. Moody’s Economy.com predicts that the unemployment rate will finally dip to a “normal” level of 5% in 2014.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the official group of professional economists that make the official recession call, declared that the U.S. economy went into recession in December 2007. Since that time, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic output, declined four straight quarters; in 2Q09, the decline was 1.0%.
According to a National Association of Business Economists (NABE) statement published in May 2009, “the reeling U.S. economy is poised to emerge from the recession in the second half of the year.” In a survey of 45 professional forecasters, the consensus view was that the end of the recession was finally in sight.
In a Wall Street Journal poll dated August 11, 2009, the majority of economists stated that “the recession that began in December 2007 is now over.” In addition, this group expects “GDP growth to remain above 2% at an annualized rate through the first half of next year,” averting the likelihood of a double-dip downturn before 2010. This group expects GDP to rise 2.8% in 2010.
On August 11, 2009, at the Stamford-based Economic Outlook and Summit sponsored by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, economist and Managing Director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) in New York, Larkshman Acthuthan, by utilizing headlines from “U.S. Cyclical Outlook,” offered a map showing his view of the route from initial economic slowdown, through the recessionary period and now to recovery:
Clear Signs of Slowdown . . . “Slower growth is clearly in the cards.” (September 2007);
Recession Warning . . . “The magnitude of oil and interest rate shocks are near recessionary readings.” (November 2007);
On the Cusp of Recession . . .“The breadth of deterioration evident in the latest data on the components of ECRI’s many leading indexes has rarely been seen except near the cusp of a recession.” (December 2007);
A Self-Reinforcing Downturn . . . “A self-reinforcing downturn has already begun. If allowed to continue, it will amount to the vicious cycle known as a business cycle recession.” (January 2008);
“A Recession of Choice” . . . “(ECRI’s leading) indexes have unambiguously turned onto the recession track.” (March 2008);
No Recovery Ahead . . . “A business cycle upturn remains in the realm of wishful thinking.” (June 2008);
Global Recession at Hand . . . “We are now on the cusp of the worst global recession in nearly three decades.” (August 2008);
“Grim Near-Term Prospects” . . . “There is no end in sight for this recession, making it likely that the jobless rate will go substantially higher.” (October 2008);
“Leading Indexes Fall Off a Cliff” . . . “There has hardly ever been such a swift deterioration of an already downbeat economic outlook.” (November 2008);
“Leading Indexes Keep Dropping” . . . “There is no objective evidence to indicate that an end to this recession is anywhere in sight.” (December 2008);
Growth Rate Cycle Upturn Forecast . . . “Upticks of the sizes already seen in the growth rates of the leading indexes . . . have always been followed by a growth rate cycle upturn.” (March 2009);
Importance of Second Derivative Upturn . . . “Historically, once a growth rate cycle upturn started, a business cycle upturn began in zero to four months.” (March 2009);
End-of-Recession Forecast . . . “The Recession will end this year, probably by summer.” (April 2009);
“Synchronized Surge in Leading Indexes” . . . “There are now pronounced, pervasive and persistent upturns in a succession of leading indexes of economic revival.” (June 2009); and
Strongest Recovery in Decades . . . “Given the growing strength in ECRI’s objective leading indexes, the odds are rising that at least the early stages of this economic recovery will be the strongest since the early 1980’s.” (August 2009)
Achuthan said that projections are for an upturn in employment rates in the non-manufacturing sector by year’s end. The Connecticut Economy Executive Editor Steven Lanza said that there are many signs that the recession is coming to an end, including a 15% rise in home sales over a year ago, a stabilization in financial markets, the stock market “roaring back” and a drop from the weekly rate of 650,000 to 550,000 jobs lost, the latter being “perhaps one of the best signs for the U.S. economy.” The economy is getting better, indicated by a recent rise in charitable giving, said Peter Flierl, President of FBT Worldwide in Greenwich.
In a Blue Chip Economic Indicators September  survey of a group of 52 private economic forecasters from major corporations, banks, business associations and consulting firms, more than 80% believe that the recession is over. Their consensus is for GDP to climb at a “brisk” 3% annual rate in 3Q09 and to rise 2.4% in 4Q09. This compares with rates of 2.2% and 2.3%, respectively, forecast in the previous survey.
The Consumer Price Index: All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was 215.834 in August 2009 and 203.9 in August 2006, an increase of 5.85%. The average over three years is 1.95%. From July 2006 to July 2009, the average increase in the CPI-U was 1.97%. During FY2009, the CPI-U decreased by 2.1%, “the biggest annual decline since a similar drop in the period ending in January 1950.”
b. Connecticut Economic Conditions
As of December 2008, an estimated 17% of the Connecticut workforce was employed in the financial sector. While Connecticut personal income was down 2.18% from 3Q08 to 1Q09, Connecticut personal income was down 9.7% from 3Q08 to 1Q09 in finance and insurance, and 13.2% from 1Q07 to 1Q09 in real estate and leasing. Connecticut was 1 of 12 states nationwide to have real GDP contraction in 2008.
In December 2008, the Connecticut labor market had the largest number of mass layoff notices for any December in a decade. Companies large and small have reduced their workforces, including Bridgeport Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, United Technologies, Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., Danaher Corp., AT&T, Aetna and General Electric Co., to name a few. The State lost 79,000 jobs since last year’s peak, as unemployment has climbed from 6.1% in August 2008 to 8.1% a year later. The workforce shrunk by 9,000 in the six months between March and August 2009. Once this factor is taken into consideration, the Connecticut unemployment rate approaches 9%. Connecticut “has long had the worst job performance in the nation,” creating no new net jobs from 1990 to 2009. Nonfarm employment in Connecticut is currently at 99% of the employment level of January 1990.
The CCEA predicts that employment will possibly decline further by approximately 35,000 between August 2009 and August 2010. In addition, the CCEA predicts that, even with a strong national recovery, Connecticut employment “will stop contracting and flatten out at about 1,620,000 -- below the level of employment Connecticut enjoyed at the beginning of 1990.”
State officials were able to reach a compromise on the State’s $37.6 billion budget over two years. Some economists have questioned the sustainability of the State’s financial situation over the long term. In addition to relying on $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funds that will be depleted by the end of the two-year budget period, the budget relies on borrowing $950 million to erase the budget deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30, and eliminates the State’s $1.4 billion “Rainy Day Fund” to help balance the budget over the coming two years. The result is that the state budget contains “a structural deficit between $2 (billion) and $3 billion” according to Economist Edward Deak, Governor Rell’s economic advisor. Rell said that “she expects the budget to fall out of balance within weeks if revenues don’t meet expectations.”
A November 2008 OPM report to the General Assembly states that the state’s long-term obligations totaled $57.6 billion, a figure that equates to approximately $16,626 for every person in Connecticut. Those obligations include the following: $21.7 billion in unfunded State Employee Post Retirement Health and Life benefits, $16.8 billion in bonded indebtedness, $9.3 billion (estimated) in unfunded state employee pensions, $6.5 billion in unfunded teacher pension liability and $2.3 billion in unfunded teachers’ post-retirement health and life benefits. Connecticut was ranked 3/50 in per capita state debt. When debt obligations for state employees and Connecticut teachers are taken together, Connecticut was ranked 49/50 in actuarial funding ratio, with Connecticut’s pension fund assets covering 56.6% of the pension liability. The State Employees Pension and Health Benefits payment obligation is projected to increase by 148% between FY2002 and FY2012. Tax revenues are down by $1.61 billion in June 2009 as compared to June 2008: tax revenues from real estate conveyances are down 43%, or $67.9 million; corporate tax collections are down $118.7 million; sales and use tax revenues are down $261.5 million.
Towns expect to stay under “severe budget pressure” for the foreseeable future. Towns and boards of education throughout the State have reported spending cuts, workforce reductions, salary freezes, hiring freezes, retirement incentives, tax increases, four-day work weeks and other measures in attempts to cut spending. Given their fiscal struggles, groups of local leaders are requesting to be relieved of various state mandates with which they claim they can no longer afford to comply.
In Connecticut, as reported in the most recent issue of The Connecticut Economy, dated Fall 2009, sales of existing homes have risen since March 2009 and house prices have risen about 0.7 percent during the first half of 2009. New unemployment claims have declined in Connecticut since March 2009 as the Connecticut PMI Manufacturing Index has risen since January 2009. Consumer confidence has begun to rise. Nationally, to date, 20% ($150 billion) of the anticipated $800 billion in Federal stimulus money has been released, with Connecticut expected to receive $1.6 billion. Among the State’s nine (9) labor market areas, the Bridgeport-Stamford Labor Market Area (LMA) is expected to have GDP growth in a range of 2%-3% in 2010 and 2%-7% in 2011, which would positively impact personal income.
In 2008, Connecticut businesses increased their export market by 11% to $15.3 billion, a figure which does not include data for either financial or insurance services. This export market has a significant trickle-down effect, positively impacting job creation and the economy. Connecticut’s per capita income in 2008 was the highest in the nation, the same spot as 2007.
d. Fairfield County
Named by Forbes’ in April 2009 as the 4th most livable area in the country based on its culture index, the Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford area had an income growth of 4.1% over the past 5 years as reported by Moody’s Economy.com, a relatively low crime rate and a 6.5% unemployment rate. Coupling these elements with what the Federal Reserve Bank of New York recognized as the nation’s highest per capita average GDP in a July 2009 report, Connecticut’s Gold Coast communities have retained their luster.
The Bridgeport-Stamford LMA includes the Town of Greenwich. In 2Q09, the LMA registered approximately 44,700 financial services jobs, or about 30% of all jobs in that sector. The average financial services sector salary in Fairfield County was $245,000 in 2008, while the statewide average was $142,500. In the financial sector, between 2Q08-2Q09, Connecticut lost 2.8% of its jobs, compared to a 3.8% loss over all industries. In the financial services sector in the LMA, there was a 1.9% dip over the 4 quarters ending 2Q09. This LMA, along with Danbury, had the lowest unemployment rates in the state in the most recent quarter. The unemployment rate in the LMA has increased 2.7% over the past year.
e. The Town of Greenwich
The Town of Greenwich, regarded as one of the “most prosperous and exclusive residential communities in the country,” offers properties to affluent home buyers who desire spectacular properties, gracious small town living and easy access to Manhattan. In this community, buyers can choose from multi-million dollar estates to townhouses priced near the low $500,000 mark. Even during the recession, construction continued in Greenwich. A residential project with several of the 20 houses complete despite the recession is Greenwich Landing, a waterfront townhouse development. With upwards of 3,000 to 3,400 square feet of living space, each townhouse includes a slip in the 20 slip marina, accommodating boats up to 60 feet in length, 3 car garages and custom kitchens and baths featuring marble.
In July 2009, the unemployment level, not seasonably adjusted, in Greenwich was 6%, the state average was 8% and the national average was 9.7%. Unemployment in Greenwich went from 3% in April 2008 to 6.3% in June 2009 and was 5.9% in August 2009. This does not account for countless Greenwich residents who had worked outside of Greenwich -- in New York City, for example -- and had become unemployed.
Between 2003-2007, revenues for the Town of Greenwich rose 22.7% while the CPI-U rose 12.7%. In that time period, revenue from property taxes in Greenwich rose from $206 million to $247.1 million. Grand list growth was 0.88% in 2008, and it is estimated to be 0.65% in 2009. In 2Q08, the median sales price in Greenwich was $1,862,500, while the state median figure was $275,000. In 2Q08, 3% of housing stock in the Town of Greenwich sold for under $400,000. There were 640 residential real estate sales between October 1, 2007 and September 15, 2008 and 331 between October 1, 2008 and September 15, 2009. The average sales price of a home in Greenwich declined by 17.37% between the above-two time periods. The single family home median sales price in Greenwich from January-June 2009 was $1,342,500, while the state median was $236,000. The Town’s January 2009 bond offering reports that during the period 2000-2008, the value of residential, industrial and commercial construction in Greenwich increased from $240,997,584 to $477,533,824.
According to a fiscal indicators data report from the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) for FY2007, the Town of Greenwich ranked 4/169 in collecting taxes. With a collection rate of 99.6%, the Town of Greenwich was above the state average rate of 98.3%. Between 2003-2007, Greenwich had a tax collection rate above 99%. The percentage of total taxes collected as a percentage of total outstanding taxes rose from 98.7% to 99.2% during that period.
Current adjusted tax levy per capita data for FY2007 show that Greenwich ranked 8/169 The Greenwich figure was $3,982, while the state average was $2,230.
The 1999 per capita income level in Greenwich was $74,346, while the state average was $28,766. The 1999 median household income in Greenwich was $99,086, while the state median household income was $53,935. 42% of Greenwich families earned less than $100,000 in 2000, according to U.S. Census data. 18.8 % of families earned less than $50,000 annually, and 11% took in less than $35,000 per year. The Town’s recent bond offering, dated January 2009, states that per capita income for 2007 in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area ranked 1st in the nation at $80,192, above the state average of $54,984 and the national average of $38,564. Greenwich’s 2007 median household income of $122,849 placed it 9/23 in Fairfield County towns. Median household income in Weston was $185,377 and in Darien was $181,821. Looking at 2008 data as reported by the Connecticut Economic Resources Center, the estimated median household income in Connecticut was $67,236. In Greenwich, the estimated median household income was $127,930 and the median in Fairfield County was $81,058. The Greenwich Housing Authority administers 317 families through the Section 8 Program.
Equalized net grand list per capita data for FY 2007 show that Greenwich ranks 1/169. The Greenwich ENGLC figure is $758,175, while the state average is $169,150. According to the State OPM, Greenwich’s equalized mill rate of 5.25 for FY2007 was the lowest in the State, below the state average equalized mill rate of 13.18.
According to the State OPM, Moody’s rated Greenwich as of October 2008 at “Aaa,” the best possible rating. Standard & Poor’s gave Greenwich an “AAA” bond rating.
Revenues for FY2009 were down from FY2008 for conveyance taxes, building permits and interest income, sources from which the Town had collected more than $14.7 million in FY2008. By the end of FY2009, revenues in the three areas of conveyance tax, building permits and interest income were $9.8 million below budget, and Greenwich’s unrestricted fund balance for FY2010 was projected to decline by more than $12.6 million from FY2009.
On November 26, 2008, the First Selectman took action to curtail spending, ordering department heads to, among other things, (1) cease filling vacancies for permanent part time, temporary and seasonal positions, (2) decrease non-salary account expenditures by at least 10%, (3) limit out of state travel for conferences and/or training, (4) limit overtime, and (5) conduct a rigorous review of department revenues. 24 Town employees were laid off during 2008-2009. The Town also instituted a retirement incentive program in 2009, resulting in the retirement of 47 Town employees.
The unrestricted fund balance for FY2010 is currently negative, and the Town must generate more than $1.5 million to get it to 0, and an additional $11,087,500 to restore the fund balance to where it was at the start of FY2009. The value of investments that fund the Town Retirement System has decreased 14.13% from $323 million on June 30, 2008 to $277.4 million on August 31, 2009. Greenwich was required to contribute more than $4.8 million toward post-retirement benefits other than pension (OPEB).
While the final FY2009 budget represented a 4% increase over the budget for the prior fiscal year, the FY2010 budget represents a 4.75% decrease compared to the FY2009 budget. To achieve this savings, several departmental budgets were decreased, including general government (7.77% from FY2009 to FY2010), fleet (7.23%), health (9%), social services (9.12%) and parks and recreation (11.43%). Additionally, the Town reduced capital expenditures by $18.19 million (46.86%) and cut expenditures toward fixed charges in some of the following areas: OPEB contribution (18.25%), risk fund (62.5%) and debt repayments (3%).
f. The Greenwich Board of Education
The Greenwich Public Schools began the 2008-2009 fiscal year with a budget of $124,974,846, a 4.77% increase over the prior year’s school budget. The GBE requested that the Superintendent “direct all departments and schools to pursue opportunities for reductions in the [2008-2009] operating budget that will not negatively impact student learning and facilities maintenance.” By memorandum dated December 5, 2008, the Superintendent informed school leaders that she was instituting, among other things, an immediate moratorium on all purchasing and spending; a hiring freeze for all vacancies for permanent and part-time, non-certified positions; prohibiting all out-of-state travel to conferences and/or meetings that require overnight stays, with two major exemptions; and requiring supervisory approval before certain administrators may authorize overtime. The GBE projected a level services budget for this fiscal year to be $130,167,185. This amount represents the cost of continuing the level of services offered during the prior year, accounting for factors such as utility rate increases, projected salary costs, etc. The GBE actually proposed a budget that was more than $3.16 million less than the amount of the level services budget. The Board’s final appropriation was $125,984,258, an 0.81% increase over the prior year’s budget and $4.18 million less than the projected level services budget.
To reconcile the budget with the appropriation, Assistant Superintendent Susan Wallerstein, for the May 28, 2009 GBE meeting, recommended that the Greenwich Public Schools cut more than $1 million in costs, including $202,845 for consultant fees, $300,000 due to unfilled or vacant positions in the Greenwich Municipal Employees Association bargaining unit and $105,600 in leadership restructure/redesign. The 2009-2010 budget also reflects a reduction of 26.5 certified and 9 non-certified positions through job eliminations and attrition. In 2009-2010, 20.5 teaching positions were cut from the budget between 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, as were 1.3 administrative positions. In addition, the Board reduced certified non-represented staff by one position in the 2009-2010 budget, going from seven to six employees. The “Management and Confidential” employee group (consisting of positions such as Director of Budgets, Director of Educational Technology and Confidential Assistant Human Resources) was cut from eight to seven employees. The Greenwich Municipal Employees Association, consisting of positions such as accounting clerks, administrative assistants, media assistants and a student center proctor, was reduced by one employee as well, on top of the reductions this group incurred in 2008-2009.
For FY2010, the school budget for new positions was eliminated in its entirety, being cut $505,776. The budget for classroom/teaching equipment was cut by 13.1% and the textbook budget was cut by 39.4%. The budget for library books was cut by 2.1% and that for newspapers and periodicals was cut by 9.2%. The budget for medical, surgical, and laboratory materials was cut by 18.2%.
During the 2008-2009 school year, Greenwich experienced a 7.4% increase in reduced price meals and a 3.1% increase in free meals. Paid meals generate more revenue than free and reduced price meals. 2009-2010 enrollment was projected to increase by 81 students
Two Greenwich schools are currently racially imbalanced. As a consequence, the Greenwich Public Schools must file a plan with the State Department of Education (SDE) to address the imbalance. Two additional schools have been cited as having an “impending racial imbalance” by the SDE. GOSA’s economist, Dr. Arthur W. Wright, in a 2007 article, stated that the “[e]vidence is overwhelming that targeting [early-childhood education] at low-income kids would be that rare bird, a win-win public policy initiative [that would] . . . greatly enhance economic efficiency, yielding higher returns than spending on buildings [and] equipment.”
Current Article II Section I provides in relevant part that “[a]ny part-time Administrator shall receive his/her salary for the time worked as an Administrator (e.g., .6 FTE is .6 times the administrative work year and corresponding salary).” 5-6 years ago, an interim human resources director chose to disregard this contract language and initiated a practice of paying part-time administrators full-time administrative pay, even when the employee did not work full-time as an administrator. From that action, a past practice arose. Greenwich administrators earn more than Greenwich teachers.
For the administrators’ bargaining unit, the total annual premium costs for health insurance amount to $1,044,577 annually and $87,048 on a monthly basis; the Board’s share of these costs is $875,213. Currently, 49 of the administrators who participate in the district’s health insurance coverage are enrolled in the Anthem PPO (Century Preferred) plan, which costs $1,741.50 per month for the family plan. Four GOSA members have elected the district’s Health Savings Account (HSA) option.
A multi-year contract term is the norm in certified collective bargaining agreements in Connecticut. Considering administrator groups in Fairfield County, of 21 school administrator collective bargaining agreements, the average duration is three years: 18 have a three-year duration, one (Trumbull Administrators) has a four year duration, and one (Bethel Administrators) has a two year duration. One school district in Fairfield County – Danbury – has a one-year collective bargaining agreement with its school administrators, effective 2009-2010. Besides Danbury, all eight school districts in Fairfield County involved in collective bargaining with their school administrators in 2008 entered into three year agreements.
Three employee groups in Greenwich itself have agreed to a single year contract extension with no general wage increase. The bargaining unit consisting of Greenwich teachers, GEA, agreed to a three-year contract term.
Of the three reported administrator settlements for the 2009-2010 season, two are one-year contract extensions with 2009-2010 concessions; the third agreement is a two-year contract that includes increases in insurance costs for bargaining unit members. The final administrator settlement for the 2008-2009 year, which occurred on January 5, 2009, was a one-year agreement involving the Thompson administrators.
Ten of the 17 agreements for the 2009-2010 season reported as of September 23, 2009 were one-year deals, as were seven of the 10 most recent teacher agreements this season (i.e., those reached during the month of September). Certain public sector groups have entered into one-year concession agreements. By way of example:
In February 2009, Tolland Board of Education Administrators agreed to extend their 2006-2010 Agreement until 2011, resulting in a salary freeze for 2009-2010;
In February 2009, Simsbury public works employees agreed to extend the 2006-2009 contract for one year with a 0% General Wage Increase for 2009-2010;
In March 2009, Farmington Board of Education Administrators agreed to extend their 2007-2010 contract until June 30, 2011 with a 0% General Wage Increase and no step movement for 2009-2010;
In April 2009, Westport custodians agreed to extend their contract to June 30, 2010, with a 0% General Wage Increase for 2009-2010 and no step movement; and
In July 2009, West Hartford Board of Education Administrators agreed to extend the 2008-2009 salary schedule to 2009-2010, with amounts administrators would otherwise receive paid upon termination of employment.
The GBE’s total salary account for its administrators is $7,823,470.
In a survey taken by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., in May 2009, 61.9% of employers had imposed a hiring freeze or reduction The percentage of private sector employers imposing salary freezes or reductions was up significantly, 52.4% vs. the 27.2% who reported such action in the January 2009 survey. Social security payments are being frozen for the next two years.
Three Town bargaining units agreed to extend the existing contract for a year, and received no general wage increase for 2009-2010: Local #456 International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Laborers International Union of North America, AFL-CIO (LIUNA); and Greenwich Municipal Employees Association (GMEA). All non-represented administrators in Greenwich (members of the Superintendent’s “cabinet”) and all management and confidential Board employees received no increase this year.
29 Connecticut school districts forged new collective bargaining agreements with administrators during 2008-2009.
Administrator Contracts Without Increment Settled/ Awarded in 2008-2009
Administrator Contracts With Increment Settled/ Awarded in 2008-2009
On December 24, 2008, Bloomfield administrators received an award of 3.99%, 3.52% and 4.28% general wage increase, inclusive of increment, over a three year contract term. On September 11, 2009, New Canaan administrators negotiated a new two year collective bargaining agreement with their local board of education. Ranked as the 2nd wealthiest municipality in Connecticut by AENGLC, New Canaan agreed to pay wage increases of 1.5% in 2010-2011 and 2.5% in 2011-2012. Premium cost sharing will increase by 2% in 2010-2011 and there are co-pay and plan design changes.
The following are the results of past negotiations, including the 2008-2009 collective bargaining season, for teachers.
All Teacher Settlements Without Increment
All Teacher Settlements With Increment
Fairfield County Teacher Settlements Without Increment
Fairfield County Teacher Settlements With Increment
Eight teacher settlements for the 2009-2010 season include a 0% salary increase for 2010-2011, with the overall average increase in salary (not including step costs) being 1.125% in 2011-2012 and 2.375% in 2012-2013.
As indicated in the report of Board of Education settlements under MERA, 12 of 71 employee groups agreed to a 0% increase for the 2009-2010 year, with an arbitrator awarding a 0% wage increase to a non-certified bargaining unit in Sterling, Connecticut.
In Greenwich, there was a settlement with nurses, awarding wage increases of 3.5%, 3.25% and 3.5% from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012, and the GEA, which group received 2.9%, 3.0% and 3.1% increases. Both settlement figures did not include increments. The GEA contract involved a compression in the number of steps in the salary schedule.
The GBE made no request to GOSA for “give-backs,” either during the contract term or during negotiations. GOSA members could have received up to an additional 1% (with up to 0.25% added to the base) had GOSA decided not to terminate its participation in the performance pay component set forth in Article III of the current agreement. However, GOSA members did give up their scheduled performance incentive pay.
The minimum annual salary for a high school principal in Greenwich is $167,686, while in Norwalk, the town with the second highest salary in Fairfield County, the salary is $154,391; the salary in Weston is $133,265. The salary is higher than in other Fairfield County towns with higher median household income levels, such as New Canaan (whose salary is $149,474) and Darien (with a salary of $145,792).
Greenwich also has both the highest minimum, at $135,826, and maximum salary levels in Fairfield County for the Coordinator/Assistant Director of Special Education. The minimum salary in New Canaan is $123,522, in Darien is $116,498 and in Westport is $112,637.
Middle school principals in Greenwich have the highest minimum salary levels in Fairfield County, at $152,594, and the third-highest maximum salary levels, behind Darien and New Canaan. The middle school principal at the minimum salary level in Westport earns $138,654, in New Canaan earns $137,816, in Darien earns $136,282 and in Weston earns $125,224. The minimum salaries in Greenwich for both the elementary school principal ($144,210) and the high school assistant principal ($135,826) are the highest in Fairfield County.
V. OUTSTANDING ISSUES
Article II, Section I
Pay Pro-Ration for Part-Time Administrator/Part-Time Teacher Service, Effective July 1, 2011 (Conditional Issue)
Article IV, Section B
Insurance Benefits, Effective July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012
General Wage Increase 2010-2011
General Wage Increase 2011-2012 (Conditional Issue)
General Wage Increase 2012-2013
VI. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
This decision is the result of the Panel having carefully considered all of the statutory factors outlined above. Said factors as were relevant were applied to each disputed issue. Each item of evidence may be considered to have applied to all relevant issues even if it is not specifically discussed in the analysis of a particular issue.
Issue #1 – Pay Pro-Ration for Part-Time Administrator/Part-Time Teacher Service, Effective July 1, 2011 (Conditional Issue)
No such language shall be introduced.
Effective July 1, 2011, any practice to the contrary notwithstanding, a unit member with a part-time administrative assignment and a part-time teaching assignment will be paid for his or her administrative assignment proportionately based on this contract. This provision shall not apply to a unit member assigned both a part-time administrative and a part-time teaching assignment during the 2010-2011 school year. In other words, a unit member holding a part-time administrative assignment and a part-time teaching assignment during the 2010-2011 school year shall be “grandfathered” under the practice in effect during the 2010-2011 school year.
Given this Panel’s award on the issue of duration, all conditional issues will be considered on their merits. Under Connecticut General Statutes §10-145b(l)(1), school administrators are “employees employed in positions requiring an intermediate administrator or supervisory certificate, or the equivalent thereof, and whose administrative or supervisory duties equal at least fifty per cent of their assigned time . . .” The GBE’s Last Best Offer (LBO) merely restores meaning to previously agreed to language. In these times of economic stressors on the GBE, there is no logical justification to pay part-time administrators a full-time administrator salary. This Panel concludes that the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record supports the GBE’s LBO on Issue 1.
Issue #2 – Insurance Benefits, Effective July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012 (Conditional Issue)
Association Last Best Offer
Effective July 1, 2011 the Town will no longer offer the Health Net POS and Health Net HMO. The medical plan options available to employees effective July 1, 2011 are the Anthem HD-HSA, the current Anthem Point of Service (POS) Plan and the current Anthem Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plan. An employee who elects to participate in the Town’s flexible spending program for medical expenses is not eligible for enrollment in the HD-HSA, and is limited to enrolling in the Anthem POS or PPO.
All employees who elect to enroll in the Anthem HD-HSA Plan, that are currently enrolled in Town’s Flexible Account Program will need to expend all funds contributed to their FSA by June 30, 2010 or be limited to participating in either the Anthem POS or PPO.
Effective July 1, 2011 the HD-HSA shall have an individual deductible of the higher of $1,500 for a single plan and $3,000 for a couple or family plan or the minimum allowable pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). In the event, as a requirement of IRC compliance, the deductible is increased above the $1,500 and $3,000, the Town shall increase its contribution to the employee’s HSA account to reflect a contribution equal to 83.33% of the new IRC required deductible. The effective date of the increase in the Town contribution shall be the date of the IRC deductible increase. Increases in Town contribution resulting from IRC requirements effective other than on July 1, shall be pro rated for remaining period of the July to June plan year. As an example, if the IRC requires a minimum single deductible of $1,750 and a couple or family of $3,250 effective January 1, the Town’s annualized contribution will increase to $1,458 for a single plan and to $2,708 for a couple or family plan effective that July 1.
For those employees who elect the HD-HSA option, the Town shall pay ninety percent (90%) effective July 1, 2011 of all medical and prescription plan premiums or premium equivalents and eighty-five (85%) of dental premium or premium equivalent with the employee paying the balance. For those employees who elect the Anthem POS or PPO option, the Town shall pay eighty-four (84%), effective July 1, 2011 and eighty-three (83%), effective July 1, 2012, of all medical and prescription plan premiums or premium equivalents and eighty-four (84%), effective July 1, 2011, and eighty-three (83%), effective July 1, 2012, of dental premiums or premium equivalents with the employee paying the balance.
LAST BEST OFFER OF THE GREENWICH BOARD OF EDUCATION
Effective January 1, 2012 (or effective January 1, 2011 upon the written election of GOSA), the Town will no longer offer the Anthem PPO and POS medical plans. The medical plan options available to employees effective January 1, 2012 (or January 1, 2011 if GOSA so elects) are the Anthem HSA-HD, Health Net POS and Health Net HMO. An employee who elects to participate in the Town’s flexible spending program for medical expenses is not eligible for enrollment in the HSA-HD, and is limited to enrolling in the Health Net POS or HMO.
All employees who elect to enroll in the Anthem HSA – HD Plan who are currently enrolled in the Town’s Flexible Account Program must expend all funds contributed to their FSA by December 31, 2011 (or December 31, 2010 if GOSA makes the election set forth above) or be limited to participating in one of the HealthNet plan options.
The Town shall make an annual contribution to the employee’s Health Savings Account in the amount of $1,250 for single coverage and $2,500 for couple or family coverage. The Town shall pay 100% of this annual contribution in January of each plan year; except that an employee who enrolls in the HSD-HD with an effective date other than January 1 shall have the Town contribution pro-rated in the first year. The HD-HSA shall have an individual deductible of the higher of $1,500 for a single plan and $3,000 for a couple or family plan or the minimum allowable pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). In the event, as a requirement of IRC compliance, the deductible is increased above the $1,500 and $3,000, the Town shall increase its contribution to the employee’s HSA account to reflect a contribution equal to 83.33% of the new IRC required deductible. The effective date of the increase in the Town contribution shall be the date of the IRC deductible increase. Increases in Town contribution resulting from IRC requirements effective other than on January 1, shall be pro rated for the remaining period of the January to December plan year. As an example, if the IRC requires a minimum single deductible of $1,750 and a couple or family of $3,250 effective January 1, the Town’s annualized contribution will increase to $1,458 for a single plan and to $2,708 for a couple or family plan effective that January 1.
Effective January 1, 2012 (or January 1, 2011 if GOSA makes the election set forth above), the Town shall pay ninety percent (90%) of all medical and prescription plan premiums or premium equivalents and eighty-five percent (85%) of dental premium or premium equivalent with the employee paying the balance.
The GBE’s LBO on this issue will eliminate the Anthem PPO and POS medical plans, while maintaining the Anthem High Deductible Health Plan (“HDHP”) that is currently an option for unit members, in addition to the Health Net POS and HMO plans. The new plan reduces premium cost sharing from 15% to 10%.
The GBE’s LBO will reduce the cost of providing insurance coverage for bargaining unit employees. The cost in 2011-2012 for family coverage under the GBE’s proposed HDHP is $1,412.90 per month. Thus, the GBE will achieve significant cost savings if GOSA members currently covered by the Anthem PPO (Century Preferred) plan migrate to the Board’s proposed HDHP. GOSA members would also be able to achieve significant savings in comparison to the popular Anthem PPO (Century Preferred) plan.
Given the severe economic constraints facing the district, the public interest mandates that the district contain its insurance costs in an effort to avoid reductions in programs, services and positions. The Board’s last best offer serves the public interest by striving to contain insurance costs while providing significant insurance benefits to GBE employees and offering a high level of GBE funding for the deductible under the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
Under the HDHP, participants pay an up-front deductible for nearly all medical services. The HSA can be funded by the individual and/or the employer, on a tax-free basis, up to the dollar amounts set forth in the Internal Revenue Code. Under the proposed plan, the deductible amounts are set at $1,500 for individual coverage and $3,000 for two-person/family coverage. Under the proposed plan, Greenwich would fund $1,250 and $2,500, respectively, of these amounts, leaving individual and family participants responsible for $250 and $500 for their health care for the entire year. As part of the HDHP, each participant in the plan has an individual health savings account (“HSA”). Once the funds are deposited into the HSA, the individual employee owns those funds.
Funds in the health savings account roll over from year-to-year. The funds earn interest on a tax-free basis and are portable. Individuals can build up significant dollars in these accounts over the years. The funds in the account are used, tax-free, to pay for any qualified medical expenses as defined in the Internal Revenue Code. The Internal Revenue Code permits HSA funds to be used not only for the participant’s cost obligations under the HDHP (such as the deductible and any applicable co-insurance amounts), but also for expenses incurred by the participant for such services as dental services, orthodontics, medical supplies and the like.
The premise of an HDHP is that participants exercise consumer choice because they are spending their own money (once the employer makes the contribution). The annual cost for an individual under the GBE’s proposed plan is $974.27, compared with $2,337.60 for the Anthem PPO with a $10 co-payment. This represents an out of pocket savings to the employee of $1,363.33 per year. The amount of savings for couples is $1,760 per year under the plan ($3,637 per year under the Anthem PPO versus $1,876 under the HSA).
High deductible health plans, and similar health insurance vehicles, are becoming increasingly common among public employee groups in Connecticut, and the parties’ prior agreement to implement an HDHP, accompanied by an HSA, is consistent with the general trend toward consumer-driven health insurance plans. Three Town bargaining units -- Teamsters, GMEA and LIUNA -- have agreed to contracts that eliminate the Anthem PPO and POS plans and retain the Anthem HDHP, as the GBE proposes to do here. A number of boards of education in Fairfield County offer such plans, Under the GBE’s plan, the GBE would fund 83.33% of the HDHP deductible in the upcoming three years.
In these trying economic times, maintaining the status quo is simply no longer a viable option, a reality that employees in Greenwich and throughout the State have recently confronted. For example, in a 2008 arbitration award involving the Town of Greenwich and the Laborers International Union of North America (“LIUNA”), AFL-CIO, Arbitrator Laurie Cain was asked to decide the structure of the retirement plan for incoming members of the bargaining unit. The Town had proposed to change the method of providing retirement benefits to new employees from the traditional defined benefit plan (“DB plan”) to a defined contribution plan (“DC Plan”), while the Union sought to maintain the DB plan. The Panel majority opted for the Town’s last best offer, concluding that its offer “strikes an appropriate balance between the interests of the Town and the interests of the employee group,” in part because the Town’s last best offer “serves the public interest by balancing the competing goals of reasonable benefits for its employees with the long-term financial interests of the Town.”
The costs of providing the traditional health insurance plans currently offered have simply become too high and the GBE has identified a way to moderate health care costs while benefiting employees as well. The HDHP proposed by the GBE represents one such solution. Aside from the funding mechanism, it is identical to the PPO plan, and it thus continues to provide employees with significant health benefits with lower costs for both the GBE and the employee participants. Accordingly, the GBE’s offer strikes a balance by providing appropriate insurance benefits to employees while reducing costs for all involved.
HDHPs appear to be the model insurance plan design of the future. An arbitration panel recently awarded the Town’s last best offer to implement an HDHP in Town of Plainville and AFSCME, Co. 15, Local 1706, Plainville Police Union (June 17, 2009). In that decision, Arbitrator Webber cited the cost savings the Town would experience under the plan in addition to other benefits to employees such as enhanced medical coverage in certain areas. In light of the financial pressures plaguing the Town, the Arbitrator observed that “[i]t is therefore critical for the Town in this daunting budget year to move as many employees as possible to the HSA and to thereby realize significant cost savings.”
In GOSA’s LBO, by implementing a plan in July, the participants would be burdened by having to meet their deductible for the tax year in just six months. The income tax consequences are a significant aspect of an HD-HSA, and a disconnect between the plan year and the tax year (January 1 through December 31 for individual taxpayers) would present complications and disadvantages to participants.
This Panel concludes that the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record supports the GBE’s LBO on Issue 2. The Panel recommends that the parties consider implementation of the new plan as soon as possible.
Issue #3 – Duration
The vast majority of the contracts in Fairfield County are for three years. The teachers and school nurses have three year contracts. It is one thing to voluntarily agree to a one year term. It is something else for such a short term to be imposed on a relatively small bargaining unit. The financial burden on both parties of going through this process again next year does not justify any benefit gained by watching and waiting for economic developments. Therefore, this Panel concludes that the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on whole record supports GOSA’s LBO on Issue 3.
Issues #4, 5 and 6 – General Wage Increase
Issue #4 – 2010-2011
To create the 2010-2011 salary schedule, increase each step of the 2009-2010 salary schedule by one and one-half percent (1.5%).
In order to construct the 2010-2011 salary schedule, the date on the 2009-2010 salary schedule shall be changed to 2010-2011 and it shall otherwise be in effect in 2010-2011 without change.
The financial capability of Greenwich has been adversely affected by the worldwide recession. That has resulted in a limited growth of the Grand List and budget cuts However, it is the wealthiest town in the state and, even in its wounded state, it has a residual financial capability. The irony is that one or more of the persons whose acts or omissions contributed to the recession and who hurt themselves, their neighbors, the Town of Greenwich, the State of Connecticut, the United States and, indeed, the world, likely reside in Greenwich.
There have been some voluntary zeros in Greenwich, but those came after a series of layoffs. The consideration for those zeros was a no layoff clause. In the GBE’s LBO, a no layoff clause is absent.
The GBE’s offer is complicated by the three year contracts with the teachers and school nurses on what, in hindsight, are rather generous terms. However, the testimony of Steve Anderson that a tentative agreement with the teachers was reached in August 2008, before the extent of the economic downturn became obvious, is credible. The GBE and Town had the option to reject, but did not. Instead, the contract was ratified on October 20, 2008, In August, unemployment was not as bad as it became later.
In the Plainville award cited above, Arbitrator Webber offered the following reasoning in declining to award a salary increase to the police union for the time period at issue:
There is no doubt that an award in favor of the Union on this issue will result in layoffs and/or program reductions. The public interest is not served when police services are reduced in order to fund wage increases for the bargaining unit. This is particularly true where, as here, the bargaining unit is fairly compensated compared to other towns in the area. . . [The] testimony supports the Town’s position with regard to a hard wage freeze in FY 2010, and also supports the Town’s same position for FY 2011, in that the Union recognizes that the Town of Plainville is facing significant financial challenges and that wage freezes are the most appropriate way to deal with those challenges. Indeed, this is a position that has been accepted by a number of public sector employees this budget year as a viable alternative to job loss . . . This evidence makes clear that what the Town is seeking is not unheard of, and perhaps may be the norm in this difficult budget year.
This Panel has given serious consideration to that award. However, Plainville is not Greenwich. Considering all the statutory factors, including the financial stressors on the Town, the CPI, the zeros by Town unions, the teachers and nurses contracts, the interests of GOSA, and other contracts in Fairfield County and other parts of the state, this Panel considers an involuntary zero to be too draconian, particularly in view of its decision on Issues 5 and 6. In contrast, GOSA’s LBO is in line with the amounts in recent contracts. Therefore, this Panel concludes that the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record supports GOSA’s LBO on Issue 4.
Issue # 5 – 2011 -2012 (Conditional Issue)
To create the 2011-2012 salary schedule, increase each step of the 2010-2011 salary schedule by two and one-half percent (2.5%).
The 2011-2012 salary schedule shall be constructed by increasing each step of the 2010-2011 salary schedule by one and one-quarter percent (1.25%) and carrying over all other language from the 2010-2011 salary schedule without change.
Things have changed for certified educational employees in Connecticut. The economy remains in flux to such a degree that it is too early to tell whether such change is permanent or merely temporary. Whether there is a new normal and what that new normal is cannot yet be determined. Layoffs, something unheard of in Greenwich, have become a reality. There has been a price for the teachers contract in that 26.5 certified positions have been eliminated through attrition. In view of fast moving economic events, the opinions of economists about the end of the recession must be viewed with caution. The GBE’s LBO for the second year is closer to GOSA’s LBO for the first year than is GOSA’s LBO for the second year and, on balance, more realistic. This Panel concludes that the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record supports the GBE’s LBO on Issue 5.
Issue #6 – 2012-2013 (Conditional Issue)
To create the 2012-2013 salary schedule increase each step of the 2011-2012 salary schedule by two and three-quarters percent (2.75%).
The 2012-2013 salary schedule shall be constructed by increasing each step of the 2011-2012 salary schedule by one and three-quarters percent (1.75%) and carrying over all other language from the 2011-2012 salary schedule without change.
The realities spoken of related to Issue 5 continue to be in play in Issue 6. It was GOSA which offered a three year contract. It would not be appropriate for this Panel to consider that things are back to normal even in the third year out. The GBE’s LBO for the third year is closer to GOSA’s LBO for the first year than GOSA’s LBO for the third year. Therefore, this Panel concludes that the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record supports the GBE’s LBO on Issue 6.
The total cost of all salary offers accepted cumulated over three years is $687,273 and is reasonable under the circumstances. The total savings of the insurance offer accepted is presently unknown since it cannot now be determined how many employees will migrate to each plan.
The Last Best Offers of the Greenwich Board of Education on the following issues are accepted: 1, 2, 5 and 6. James Ferguson dissents as to Issues 1, 2, 5 and 6.
The Last Best Offers of the Greenwich Organization of School Administrators on the following issues are accepted: 3 and 4. John Romanow dissents as to Issues 3 and 4.
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Presentation to NW Florida State College Center Life Long Learning on The Episcopal Church - Recently, I was honored to be invited to present a program and classroom discussion on the basics of the Anglican Church to the Comparative Religions Class...3 years ago
Trucks on the Merritt - Once again we have to put up with trucks on the Merritt Parkway crashing into bridges. In the Greenwich Time article (here) there is mention of a bill pro...4 years ago
Michael Mason Midwives MISA - The hugely-important issue of the projected Music Instructional Space/Auditorium, aka MISA, came up for one final vote in the RTM (Representative Town Meet...5 years ago
Questionable play-calling dooms Greenwich football team - How cool is it that I was able to watch the Greenwich-Staples game live on my laptop? If you missed it you may rewind and view the entire game on MSG Varsi...5 years ago
Guilty Plea Expected in Trautwein Murder - STAMFORD -- A former New Haven mechanic whose conviction for murdering North Stamford resident Joanne Trautwein in 2005 was overturned by the state Suprem...5 years ago
Momofuku-inspired Ramen - \ Mmm ... ramen. Since I lived in Tokyo after college, I discovered that ramen was more than those cheap little packs I grew up with, and I developed a...6 years ago
Redistricting - OK, I get the knee-jerk reaction to change offered by someone partisan is often going to be rejection. But the reaction to the proposed redistricting rolle...6 years ago
I've joined the FCC National Broadband Plan team - Yesterday at blogband.gov it was announced that I've joined the FCC's National Broadband Plan Task Force. I'm delighted to be helping Blair Levin and his t...8 years ago
Image = GRU = Greenwich hedge fund manager Clifford Asness, president of AQR Capital.jpg - [image: Image = GRU = Greenwich hedge fund manager Clifford Asness, president of AQR Capital.jpg] Date: May 13, 2009, 5:10 AM Number of Comments on Photo:0...9 years ago
2009 Women's Retreat Afternoon Session - Ladies, use the top right hand button of the embedded document to view it in full screen mode, or click the iPaper button to print your own copy of the not...9 years ago
New address for our blog! - We are in the process of combining this blog and our main site into one new site: to read future and many older posts, from now on please visit: http://www...9 years ago
The For What It's Worth Blog Archive #2 At Blogger (Old Greenwich Post Columns Going Back To January 2003)