FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Fort Fairfield Town Council approved, in a 3-to-1 vote, a 1 percent salary increase for all nine public works employees, following an executive session to discuss the matter last week.
Councilwoman Melissa Libby cast the dissenting vote.
The town’s public works employees are members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 220 and both the union and the town ratified the one-year contract, according to AFSCME Labor Negotiator Sylvia Hebert.
“Negotiations were amicable,” Hebert said.
Initially, the union had asked for 3 percent for three years, but the town countered the offer.
Councilman Bob Kilcollins said that because of the uncertainty of the pandemic, the town could only afford 1 percent and it was a sign to the public works employees that the town council values their work and is trying.
“I feel that we know we can work with that number from what we know about our budget,” Kilcollins said before last week’s vote. “We can always negotiate it the following year.”
The contract takes effect on July 1 with the new fiscal year and all full-time Fort Fairfield public works employees are covered by the contract whether they join the union or not,Town Manager Andrea Powers said.
“The Union received the same salary increase as all employees last year at 3 percent,” Powers said, adding that the town council would like to see what a 1 percent increase for all town employees looks like at the first public budget hearing, slated for April 28.
During the town council discussion on the increase, Councilwoman Melissa Libby said that she does value and appreciate the town employees and all the hard work they are doing.
“Do I think that they’re very deserving of 1 percent or more increase? I 100 percent do,” she said. “I do, however, think it’s in the town’s best interest this year not to do any raises across the board.”