Unions in Woonsocket agree to concessions, Budget Commission OKs contracts

Source: John Hill, Providence Journal, June 29, 2013

The city’s state-appointed Budget Commission Friday approved new contracts with four of the city’s six unions that cut health-care benefits and increased the costs of health insurance for City Hall and School Department retirees…. John Burns of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees said the concessions were difficult, particularly the health insurance increases for workers making less than $30,000 a year. His union also agreed to let the city partially privatize the water plant, costing the union 10 jobs….
Commission votes in favor of DBO for new water treatment plant
Source: Russ Olivo, The Call, June 17, 2013

Opponents went down fighting as Mayor Leo T. Fontaine narrowly won the authorization he needs to privatize a proposed $50 million water treatment plant from the Budget Commission. The long impasse over privatization finally broke on a 3-2 vote Friday as Fontaine and Commissioner Peder Schaefer lobbed verbal grenades at each other from opposite sides of the issue….The deadlock over privatization has been going on since at least 2009, when the City Council granted Fontaine permission to procure a new water treatment plant in a process known as design-build-operate, or DBO. That means one company would be granted a long-term contract – probably 20 years – to operate a plant that it has also designed and built…. The controversy seemed to have been put to rest on June 3, when a consulting team assembled by the Providence law firm Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West issued its report. Bruce Tobey, a former mayor of Gloucester, Mass. who led the consulting team, declared that DBO would be save the city about $28.4 million under a 20-year-contract. He said the plant would still cost about $51.6 million.

Tobey said some of the savings will come from reduced personnel costs, but much of the benefit would result from what he called “efficiencies of consolidated labor and planning.”… Many city residents are also against the plant, which they say will expose them to a new round of rate hikes on top of new taxes the commission is seeking as part of its five-year solvency plan…. In a non-binding move, the city council is expected to pass a resolution tonight opposing the DBO….