Aldermen approve Planning Board appointments, reject fact-finding report

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Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur on Jan. 16, 2018

MANCHESTER, NH – In addition to their action supporting the School Board’s letter on SB 193, the Manchester Board of Aldermen also had other business during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Here are a few highlights.

Aldermen Reject Fact-Finding Report

The Board of Aldermen also supported the School Board in their unanimous rejection of a fact-finding report from the Manchester School District Directors and Coordinators Union.

According to School Board member John Avard, that report came as the next step following a bargaining impasse between the union and the School Board.

In that impasse, Avard told the Aldermen that the 12-employee union requested a 7.4 percent salary increase, with three of its members receiving close to a 20 percent salary increase.

The union indicated that the salary increase was designed to bring position salaries in line with those found for comparable positions in nearby school districts. However, Avard indicated that other school district bargaining units would request comparable raises, something that currently is not fiscally feasible.

Chairman Daniel O’Neill voiced concern over several full-time positions within the union that had been left unfilled recently, such as the district’s athletic director, citing the salary deficit versus other districts.

Avard responded that School District superintendent Bolgen Vargas is investigating methods to modify the responsibilities of each position to make Manchester’s schools more competitive while also maintaining fiscal discipline.

Alderman John Cataldo noted that earlier in the meeting the board used moral support of the School Board to justify their decision and the same logic should apply here as well.

The vote against the union’s fact-finding report passed, 12-2. O’Neil and Kevin Cavanaugh were the only votes in opposition.

Projected Budget Surplus Growth

Finance Officer William Sanders reported to the board that the Fiscal Year 2018 budget surplus projection had grown to $636,000. That growth primarily came from $700,000 in debt service savings realized by the deferral of a bond issuance until April.

Among the city’s departments, the Fire Department had the largest fiscal year deficit at $156,000. That amount came almost entirely from severance payments, with severance payments from all departments reported at $529,000.

City Unlikely to Reimburse for Water Main Damage

Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur asked City Solicitor Emily Rice whether the city would reimburse residents for vehicular damage incurred by a recent water main break.

Rice told Levasseur that the city was unlikely to reimburse residents, citing municipal immunity, but also added that each claim was investigated on a case-by-case basis.

Planning Board Appointments

Several board appointments were postponed, but two new Planning Board members were approved after a request by Levasseur.

Mayor’s designee and recent ex-alderman Pat Long and incumbent ex-officio administrative member Melanie Sanuth were unanimously approved to fill the positions immediately.

Levasseur praised the knowledge of Long and Sanuth, noting that they had both served on the Planning Board before. He also mentioned that the Planning Board has a packed agenda on Thursday and their input could be useful during that meeting.

CORRECTION –  The story has been updated to correct the name of School Board member John Avard, which was incorrect in an earlier version.