The budget commission signed off on extending the contract for an interim superintendent of schools and approved an acting fire chief for East Providence at its bi-weekly meeting Thursday afternoon, Jan. 3.
The state-appointed commissioners also approved new labor contracts with four employee unions, including the teachers, and extended the contract for the police union by another month.
The approvals were among a host of personnel items on the agenda for the meeting in City Hall.
The contract for Interim Superintendent John DeGoes was extended to the end of March from Jan. 25, when it was set to expire. A new superintendent of schools is expected to be hired from a field of 16 applicants by March 1. DeGoes will remain on board to allow for an orderly transition.
DeGoes will be paid approximately $2,000 for that time period to compensate him for the loss of pension income because his interim position is limited to 90 days under state law. But that amount is still less than the budgeted amount for a permanent superintendent, so there is an actual savings of approximately $4,000 to the city's budget.
Capt. Oscar Elmasian, East Providence’s fire marshal, was officially approved as the acting fire chief at a salary of around $83,000. That will save the city approximately $65,000 over the next six months because Elmasian will continue to fill both positions on the books.
A search for a new fire chief also was approved by the budget commission. City Manager Peter Graczykowski asked for approval to fill the post because it is as seen as an essential position which must remain filled at all times to ensure continuity of operations, proper management of the budget and appropriate management of staff.
The new contract for the East Providence Professional, Managerial and Technical Employees -- middle managers -- calls for no wage increase the first year but a 2 percent increase in the second year. There will be a wage re-opener for the third year.
Longevity pay is frozen at current rates. Cost-sharing for medical benefits is determined by gross wages, with an employee’s share rising from 10 to 25 percent as wages increase.
The new contact for the steelworkers union, which represents laborers, custodians, dispatchers, and similar workers, also calls for no wage increase in year one but a 2 percent wage hike in the second year. There will be a wage re-opener in the third year.
Longevity pay is frozen at current rates. And cost-sharing for medical benefits is the same as for the middle managers.
The contract with the teachers is actually a “gap” contract that ran through the end of 2012. The union and the commission are still bargaining on an agreement that goes beyond the end of this year.
The eventual agreement is expected to save the city quite a bit of money for health care costs with a sliding scale of co-pays based on salary and a new high-deductible insurance plan on June 30.
A similar “gap” contract for the East Providence Secretaries Association that is similar to the teachers’ contact also was approved.
The collective bargaining agreement with the police union, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, was extended again through Jan. 25. Negotiations continue.
The budget commission also was told that four candidates remain in the running for the new consolidated Human Resources Director in East Providence. Graczykowski and DeGoes will recommend a candidate to the commission.
The budget commission also approved the splitting of the Parks and Recreation Department. Parks now will come under the control of the Department of Public Works. Recreation will be handled by the city’s recreation coordinator.