Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winchester voters back police pay raise

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — A warrant article to raise the pay of Winchester police officers to be more competitive with other communities received support from the majority of voters at deliberative session Saturday.
The article, if passed at a town meeting on March 11, would give officers and other employees of the Winchester Police Department an 8 percent raise effective July 1. The raises, which include payroll expenses, would add $35,756 to the town’s operating budget, Selectman Sherman Tedford said.
They would also be on top of an up to 3 percent merit raise all town employees would receive if the town’s 2014-15 budget passes.
As an SB2 town, Winchester residents are allowed to discuss and amend town meeting warrant articles during a deliberative session. The meeting is then adjourned until March when residents vote by ballot on the warrant articles.
Originally, the warrant article about the police department raises had listed an amount of $28,576. Tedford said the amount didn’t include the payroll expenses, and he made a motion Saturday to amend the article, which was seconded by Selectman Theresa G. Sepe before being approved by voters.
Police Chief Gary A. Phillips passionately explained to approximately 70 voters attending the meeting at the town hall why they should back the warrant article, which the selectmen unanimously recommended.
“We have a problem being competitive with these other towns,” he said, as his wife handed out copies of a two-page packet to voters. “We have a problem maintaining our quality people.”
The packet included information from the Local Government Center showing Winchester’s police department employee salaries for 2013 being from 11 to 28 percent below the 2012 state average — depending on the position — for towns with a population of 2,000-4,999.
For example, the state average salary for a patrolman in communities of this size in 2012 was $41,923. In Winchester, patrolmen are paid either $36,956 or $37,127.
Winchester has a population of 4,341, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Had is the key word ..
The packet also included information from the N.H. Occupational Employment and Wages 2012 survey, which further showed Winchester police officers are being paid less than their counterparts in the area.
Besides providing incentive for officers to stay with the Winchester Police Department, increasing the salaries will help the town better protect its investment of having to train and outfit the officers when they’re hired, Phillips said.
Often times, Winchester officers go to work for other area police departments after two to three years, which is the time it takes to be fully trained and have proven themselves, he said.
It costs roughly $18,000-$20,000 to train and outfit an officer, and for that upfront expense, it’s good if they hang around for a while, he said.
Voters extensively scrutinized a warrant article Saturday to appropriate $5,000 for the operation and maintenance of the Sheridan House by the Winchester Historical Society.
Neither the Winchester Board of Selectmen nor the budget committee recommended the petition warrant article, which prompted several questions and statements from voters.
“In the situation we are in right now, we might not exist next year,” historical society Treasurer Elena M. Heiden said.
The Sheridan House, which is on Back Ashuelot Road, is a museum of the town’s history. Besides housing several artifacts, a barn on the property shelters some of Winchester’s historic fire equipment.
The organization relies on membership fees, donations and fundraisers to generate revenue, but it’s having trouble making ends meet as of late, she said.
“We had a major situation with our furnace where it was leaking water, and we have a $632 bill we still haven’t paid yet,” she said.
In addition, heating oil was recently delivered to the house, which has to be kept at a certain temperature so the historical items inside don’t get damaged, she said.
Sepe said she supports the Sheridan House, but she voted against recommending the article because no one who submitted it came to the selectmen to explain what the $5,000 would be used for.
Erin G. Robb, who submitted the petition warrant article, then apologized to the board for not getting that information to them.
“I truly didn’t give it a thought after I got the signatures (for the petition),” she said.
Robb is president of the historical society board of trustees.
In the future, that information will be provided to the selectmen, she said.
Voters approved the warrant article for the ballot.
Voters also approved amending a petition warrant article that sought to require the town clerk and tax collector’s office to remain open twice a month on Wednesday nights until 8 p.m.
The amended version seeks to have the town clerk and tax collector’s office continue to operate under the hours currently in place, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Resident Kenneth Cole said he submitted the warrant article because he wanted people to have better access to the town clerk and tax collector’s office.
His proposal was immediately met with opposition from selectmen, other residents and James M. Tetreault, Winchester town clerk and tax collector.
The town clerk and tax collector’s office is open at the same time as other town offices in the town hall.
“As a selectman, I’m not putting one person in this building at night,” Tedford said. “It’s a security issue.”
Tetreault said it makes no sense for his office to be open at night because state support for motor vehicle transactions shuts down for the day at 6 p.m.
For residents who can’t make it to town hall during business hours, he can make arrangements with them to register their vehicles, he said.
“We’ll work with you,” he said.
During the roughly four-hour deliberative session, voters approved an amended warrant article about appropriating $3,298,617 for the town’s 2014-15 proposed operating budget.
The number is a decrease of $15,644 from the $3,314,261 in the original warrant article. The proposed $3,298,617 budget represents a decrease of $119,044 from the 2013-14 budget of $3,417,661. It’s also less than the default budget of $3,314,261.
The Winchester Board of Selectmen recommended the change because it’s important for three or four other spending articles on the warrant to pass, Tedford said.
Those warrant articles, which were approved, included a seven-year lease and purchase agreement for a new custom pumper fire truck, and a five-year lease and purchase agreement for a new dump truck with plow and sander equipment.
“We found some areas where we can reduce the budget and hopefully not reduce services,” Tedford said. “I believe with these changes, we’ll be able to hold the line with the tax rate.”

The 32-article warrant will now go before residents to vote on by ballot on March 11.

Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.


Great little town to work for, and its getting better said...

What a farce-The police should have asked for double, they would have got it with this crowd and leadership. H--- they would have ok'd 2 new fire trucks if Tedford or Whippie had told them to. No show from the over taxed, so I guess we get what we deserve. There is still the vote, maybe a few will wake up, but that would be asking a lot. Why pay for college when you can work for the town of Winchester 3 and 4 days a week with 10 hrs holiday pay, great benefits, no commute, and make a good living.

Anonymous said...

Check out the Sunday Sentinel, front page. No police no problem? Maybe its the wave of the future, smaller departments with help from the state and county police.

Anonymous said...

Its not the pay rate that gives us officer turn over, its the job itself. Could you imagine being a cop in this town and what you have to deal with? Heck, they are at the baby factory across from Mr. Mikes daily, and Police say domestic crap is what they dread the most, I bet 95% of the calls are just for that. A 11% pay increase is not going to change any of that.

Bloviator said...

Selectman Tedford strongly objects to the security risk posed by a lone employee at town hall 2 nights a month. the next door Conant Library, a woman has been the sole employee in the library until 8 pm 3 nights every week for more than a decade without incident.
Selectman Tedford please put an end to this madness immediately!!!!
Boo- hoo! Town employees don't want to work late 2 nights per month. Boo- hoo!
It is certainly grueling to sit in the same chair day after day staring into space.
Must be nice to get to vote on your own hours, salary and benefits.

devotedMOM said...


Anonymous said...

Before you make any dissensions on funding the PD you might want to read a book that was just published, its called. Rise of the Warrior Cop-The Militarization of America's Police Forces, by Radley Balko.

Anonymous said...

Bloviator, good points. The town hall would only be open the nights the selectmen are meeting and there is a ton of support for this service.

Anonymous said...

Town of Winchester Attacks Peaceful Property Owner: Who will be next?
Watch as one of your fellow residents has his life taken away form him from the clique at the town hall.

cut and paste you tube video

Anonymous said...

There are more videos to come as accusations will be leveled at the contemptible bastards at the town hall destroying a fellow citizens livelihood, his family and his health and the taking of his personal property. Who will be next? Learn how Sharra and Gus Ruth rented an aircraft with tax payers dollars to fly around looking into your back yards and taking pictures and videos of your private property. Who the Hell gives them the right?
What the town hall did to one of our citizens is criminal. If you fail to speak up now you maybe next. It's your tax dollars that will be used by the clique at the town hall to fight this all the way to superior court.

Anonymous said...

Wish Gary the best. Wonder what our dictatorship is going to cost the town this time.

What The H--- said...

An 8% pay raise in a town where property taxes just went up 10%, are you kidding. I never got an 8% pay raise in my life and don't know anyone who has.

Anonymous said...

The Winchester teachers got an 8% raise back in 2001. This was when Teresa Sepe was on the school board. Food for thought!

Also concerned said...

To "What the H---said"... No, it's 8% plus the 3% all the town employees will be getting across the board. What's up with that? Of course, only if the voters go for it.

Anonymous said...

Some of the biggest B.S I heard at the deliberative session was Sherman saying he would not allow employees to work late at the town hall by themselves. What a crock, didn't we just spend money on new locks and panic alarms? isn't the P.D. right next door?
As someone else stated, the nights in question was during the select board meetings. This just show how everyone in the town hall works hard at taking care of each other, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. Seems they all forget they are supposed to be taking care of us!

Anonymous said...

Lot's of bitching about all the crap that goes on in this town and how the town selectmen, employees, school people and appointed board members continue to get perks at our expense and yet, no one ever shows up for deliberative and hardly anyone shows up to vote. Well here's a clues for you all .. NOTHING is going to change until you do. It's up to YOU, not your neighbor, the guy/girl at the store or your relative. YOU, need to get off your asses and go vote.
There is still plenty of time to find 2-3 good candidates and WRITE THEIR NAMES IN on the ballot. YOU can make a DIFFERENCE, but YOU have to show up at the polls. So YOU want change, YOU want lower taxes, YOU want honest hard working employees working for YOU? THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT .. GO VOTE.

I can not take it any longer! said...

It's amazing how the town's people complain about 3% raises at one dept, 8% over at that dept. When all your doing is stumbling over a dime to pickup a penny. Those wage would only result in a .25 or .35 cent increase on your tax bill. It's the schools, its the new fire truck we can not afford, the Mike Martin Memorial Bridge to nowhere, it's the police cruiser, it the town hwy truck they will only abuse and reck, it's the added pork. A point I learned at the budget meeting Dale Gray Hwy dept superintend adds about $40,000 of pork to his budget each year to make himself look good, it's Margaret Sharra and her legel fiascos she puts the town in that cost you the tax payers. The wage increase are chump change to the money this town losers cost the people like Sharra and Leroy Austin. Why is John Gomarlo still bleeding the town coffers.

We saved over $100,000 by changing the town employees health care and the selectmen want to use (your money) to pay back there crony supporters.

A person can talk to the town's people till their "blue in the face", but people would still think it's more important to worry about the police dept getting a 8% raise.

To the person that said they never got a 8% raise, are you out at all hours in the night, snow, rain dealing with drunks, druggy and all the other stupid out there. the policeman do not get much per hour and 8% is worth it to sleep at night knowing a high paid patrolperson is wake. If you really need to save 8% take it from the fat a$$es at the highway dept.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we have someone from the P.D. reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the big bad dangerous job at the PD, wouldn't seen so dangerous if they tried logging or roofing for a couple of weeks. Heck, the boss might even let you keep a gun in the skidder.