Salem selectman unhappy with cable decisions
The $423,423 budget is funded through Comcast’s franchise fees.
While reviewing the budget, Selectman Stephen Campbell was concerned with bringing two SCTV employees into the State Employee Association and with the practice of making capital expenditures with town money for items used predominantly by the schools.
The positions were the only two non-union positions left and had been at the same rate for the past four years, according to SCTV Executive Director Tom Garrosso.
Town Manager Keith Hickey explained that two SCTV employees were accepted into the SEA union and their pay raised from $14.80 to $16.79 an hour. If the town challenged the agreement, the union could have sought retroactive pay back to 2009, Hickey said.
“You, in effect, have changed the contract with the union without informing the Board of Selectmen,” Campbell said.
The town should seek legal advice to see if the agreement can be undone, Campbell said.
With the inclusion of the two employees, full-time regular pay in the cable budget increased from $105,000 in 2012 to over $121,000 in 2013 and more than $129,000 in 2014.
Campbell also questioned some capital expenditures in the budget that would primarily benefit the schools.
The two sides work together to reach their goals, Garrosso said. The schools maintain their facilities and contribute their fair share, he said, adding that the schools’ infrastructure and equipment is also used for town purposes.
“I get frustrated when it’s perceived as us against them,” SCTV’s Garrosso said. “It’s really us. It’s from the same pie.”
While the two — school and town — are separate entities, Hickey said the way capital expenditures are budgeted is not a change in policy.
“I think we try to do things that are advantageous for all the parties involved,” Hickey said.
Selectman Michael Lyons said: “I think we make our best efforts trying to keep these costs distinct. I don’t think there’s any malfeasance here.”
Lyons’ motion to approve the budget passed, 4-1, with Campbell opposed.
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Julie Hanson may be reached at Jhanson@newstote.com.
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