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“Politics has stood in the way of action for too long, and I can tell you politics seems very petty when it is your friends and neighbors who are injured or dead.”
Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley, who, along with 200 other U.S. metropolitan mayors, are urging the Senate to vote on two House-passed bills expanding background checks for gun sales. — B4
Winning in the rain
Chloe Levins triumphs in the women’s state amateur golf championship, the first Rutland member to take that honor since Mae Murray in 1952. B1
A three-year contract has been reached between the city and members of the Rutland City Police Department that will see department staff members get raises of 50 to 75 cents an hour, but will require greater health insurance contributions
Mayor David Allaire announced during Thursday’s monthly meeting of Project VISION that the new contract had been ratified by the police officer’s union and approved by the Board of Aldermen. The aldermen supported the new contract at its Monday meeting.
The contract is retroactive to 2018 and runs through 2021.
City Attorney Matt Bloomer said negotiations were primarily conducted by himself, Allaire, Judy Frazier — who is the administrative assistant to Bloomer and Allaire — and Police Chief Brian Kilcullen.
Bloomer said negotiations started a little later than usual for the most recent contract because the city police had changed unions to become members of the New England Police Benevolent Association.
Changes to the contract were reached in two stages. An agreement went into effect in January that included changes to the way new officers are hired. The agreement grants two consecutive days off for bereavement leave to a K-9 handler immediately after the death of a K-9 unit if the dog is active in the department.
Bloomer called the new contract a “fair compromise for both groups.”
“We negotiated from September to July, so almost a year’s time. We really got to understand each side’s positions and what they were trying to accomplish. I think this, like almost every non-arbitrated collective bargaining agreement, is a good mix of things for both groups,” he said.
Because the wage increases in the contract were not in place at the end of the last contract in June 2018, staff at the police department, which includes officers, clerks and dispatchers, did not receive raises last year.
But under the new contract, the raises are retroactive and staff will receive pay for about the past 11 months.
Bloomer said the union had requested an increase of 50 cents an hour for non-sworn employees like the property and records clerks and dispatchers, and 75 cents an hour for the sworn officers such as uniformed police and detectives.
The new contract adds another tier to the police department for wage increases. The city had previously had a specific tier for those who had been with the department for five or 10 years but a new tier for officers who have been with the department for 15 years seemed consistent with other police departments in Vermont, Bloomer said.
Another change to the tiers is the pay for new officers. Bloomer said the city had been hiring officers who still needed to attend the police academy and become certified but were being paid the same as a certified officer.
“This creates a slightly lower rate that, before they’re certified and they can’t really do all the normal duties that a normal certified officer can do, they will receive this amount that’s about $3 or $4 less an hour than a certified officer would make. …. That potentially is a significant savings for the city because a lot of the people that we’re recruiting now have not gone through the police academy yet,” he said.
For health insurance under the new contract, employees will go from paying 15% for their Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage to 20% by 2021.
However, the city will go from contributing 11.92% to the city pension to 13.05% by 2020. Also, employees will increase their contribution from the current rate of 7.08% to 10% by 2020.
Under previous contracts, an officer could collect the full value of unused sick time upon retirement and 50% of the value if the officer left before 20 years with the department but could keep some of that value if they were fired for “just cause.” Under the new contract, a staff member terminated for “just cause” forfeits all that value.
Officer Jeffrey Warfle, the union representative for the Rutland City Police Department, could not be reached before deadline Thursday.
WALLINGFORD — Because two towns can’t agree on where their borders lie, the owners of a West Hill Road property will likely be taxed twice this year on the same buildings, possibly leading to court action, according to one board member.
Town records for Tinmouth and Wallingford show an agreement was reached between them in 2017 regarding the location of the town line that put the Stan Taylor property and some others in Tinmouth. There had been some confusion about it in the past.
According to Wallingford Town Clerk Julie Sharon, the 372-acre Taylor property consists of a house, a mobile home and some other structures. Altogether, it’s assessed in Wallingford at a value of $1,325,000. Tinmouth Town Clerk and Treasurer Gail Fallar said the house is assessed in Tinmouth at $500,000.
The 2017 agreement stood until March 18, when the Wallingford Select Board voted to “add the house, tennis court and pond value to the grand list, then notify the Town of Tinmouth,” according to that board’s minutes.
The Wallingford board did this at the suggestion of former Wallingford Town Clerk Joyce Barbieri, who’d researched the matter and said her findings showed those parts of the Taylor property as being in Wallingford.
This action led to a meeting in June where Fallar asked the Wallingford Select Board to abide by the 2017 agreement until the towns could sort out what property was where, perhaps by hiring a surveyor. Members of the Wallingford board agreed to meet with the Tinmouth board to talk about it.
That meeting was held July 23, and while it was a special meeting of the Tinmouth Select Board, it was held at Wallingford Town Hall. According to the minutes from that meeting, Wallingford Select Board members Bruce Duchesne and Rose Regula, Wallingford Assessor and Lister Lisa Wright and Barbieri met with the Tinmouth Select Board, Fallar and a few other Tinmouth officials.
Fallar said in a Thursday interview that the July 23 meeting didn’t lead to an agreement. Tinmouth officials say records show the Taylor property as being in Tinmouth, while those in Wallingford say their records are correct. Fallar said the Wallingford party didn’t discuss hiring a surveyor.
The Wallingford Select Board met Monday. According to the draft minutes from that meeting, the board voted unanimously to stick by the decision it made in March that moved parts of the Taylor property into Wallingford.
“We are going to send the property tax bill as normal,” said Regula in a Thursday phone interview. “We may end up in court.”
Regula said Wallingford’s records and research support her board’s actions.
Fallar said she has directed the Taylors to pay both tax bills, but to say they were doing so “under duress.”
About five other properties would be affected by Wallingford’s reading of the maps, Fallar said, but there’s no development on those parcels.
Attempts to reach the Taylors on Thursday weren’t successful.
The Rutland County Humane Society is calling on all dogs to bring their owners up to Pine Hill Park this Sunday to run or walk on the trails and raise money for the shelter. This is the first time the Humane Society has hosted a “Trails for Tails” event, and if it goes well, staff members hope to add it to their annual fundraising repertoire, according to events and fundraising coordinator Amelia Stamp.
Stamp said the idea for Trails for Tails came from staff members who love spending time in nature.
“We were looking for different events to mix it up and to attract animal lovers in the community,” she said. “We have a lot of hikers and runners and people who love going on the trails.”
The event will include a 5K and a 1-mile fun run, both of which Stamp said can be walked or run. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and participants are encouraged to bring their dogs along.
“I am excited to see how many dogs we get and maybe we will see a few alumni, which would be really cool,” Stamp said. “We love seeing dogs from here in their homes. That’s why a lot of us work here to see those kinds of happy endings.”
Also, the Humane Society plans to bring some adoptable pets to the event, and volunteers will walk these dogs on the 1-mile loop. This helps give the dogs more outdoor time and might introduce them to potential future owners.
Stamp explained that summer is a busy fundraising season for the shelter, which relies on these events to help pay for basic services.
“Almost all of our fundraisers raise money for medical expenses like spaying and neutering, and all of the expenses that go into animals when they come in the door,” Stamp said. “That and shelter supplies, like cleaning supplies, anything we need to keep the shelter running.”
All of the pets that enter the shelter receive some amount of medical attention, whether that means vaccinations, teeth cleaning or a microchip implant to help return them to their future owners if they ever get lost.
“We lose money on every adoption,” Stamp said. “We have a few (fees) just so we can cover enough that we can continue to care for more animals.”
Fundraisers help cover the rest of the cost. This summer, the shelter has put on cat yoga and a yard sale, and they have several events planned including the Pints for Pets homebrewing competition and a dock-diving event for dogs.
Trails and Tails is being organized in partnership with Rutland Recreation and Parks, and Outreach Coordinator Colleen Shattuck said she hopes attendees learn about new parts of the county.
“If it’s someone who sees the event because they like Pine Hill Park, they will get introduced to the Humane Society and visa versa,” Shattuck said. “I hope that more people know that the Humane Society is a great resource we have in Rutland County.”
Shattuck said Rutland Rec has partnered with the shelter on a number of events in the past, and she loves seeing people bring their pets to the parks.
“It’s really awesome to see how many great events they bring to the community because they use them as fundraisers, but it’s also something really great for families to do,” she said.