September 06. 2018 11:35PM

Craig under fire: Mayor blocks firefighters' contract

EDITORIAL


Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig is finding out that governing is much harder than running for office.

On Tuesday, Craig cast the deciding vote against a new contract with the union representing Queen City firefighters. She called it “one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my time as mayor.”

We can understand why. Then-Mayor Ted Gatsas’ veto of a new firefighters’ contract in June of last year was a key issue in the November election. Craig has always counted on firefighters as a core piece of her political coalition. Voting against raises for her political supporters had to be politically difficult.

It was also the right thing to do. Manchester taxpayers can’t afford the proposed contract. By giving firefighters merit and longevity raises, some retroactively, and tying future raises to the city’s tax cap, the contract would have increased salaries faster than the tax cap will rise.

That means fewer resources for the rest of city government. Gatsas fought against such costly contracts as mayor, but was sometimes overridden by aldermen unconcerned with the city’s long-term finances.

Craig says if the city is going to give firefighters higher salaries, the union needs to agree to other cost-saving concessions.

Keeping spending within Manchester’s tax cap requires hard work and tough choices. We’re pleased to see Craig putting in that work, even if it alienates a political ally.

We hope she maintains this fiscal discipline when the city and the union head back to the bargaining table.