March 16, 2009

Correction on Tiverton Contract

Justin Katz

In attempting to get a handle on the recently approved AFSCME labor contract in Tiverton on a Saturday morning, I made a data entry error that resulted in a too-dramatically opposing result from the town administrator. He inadvertently jumbled the starting points for his increase/decrease calculations, leading to a stated savings of $117,065, and I inadvertently typed $60 into my calculator rather than $60,000 for overtime savings, leading me to declare a cost increase of $114,647.

The actual result was apparent in my second look at the contract, for which I brought the administrators numbers into an Excel spreadsheet. Unfortunately, time constraints led me not to make the connection. The upshot is that, with more-or-less even savings of $5,233, the town traded some staff restructuring related to minimum manning for the salary and healthcare-cost increases.

I regret the error and will make corrections and notes where appropriate. In the broader debate, however, my view doesn't change. The town should be looking for substantial savings, given the current environment, and this contract is ultimately more expensive than the prior one.