It's contract negotiation time at BCWA, and there are significant changes in the plant operations. They are currently processing little to no water at the plant. The B&E report that all three towns spent thousands of dollars for last year made specific recommendations on salary adjustments for plant employees:
"Overtime — When the contract is renegotiated next year the authority must gain significant concessions in the overtime language in order to control costs to protect ratepayers. Obtaining contract concessions in the area of overtime is only one step in correcting this very expensive department within the authority's operations."
"B&E compared the hourly pay rates in the contract with five other water utilities and found them higher when comparing like positions. BCWA must constrain pay increases for the next five years to put BCWA employee salaries in line with other water utilities in RI."
The official response of the BCWA management to these, and other suggestions, dated June 10, 2011, recommends freezing existing salaries at existing levels and reduce starting salaries through attrition so that the salaries are consistent with like positions in other water companies.
Recommendations were also made regarding health coverage co-pays, vacation, and other issues. This report can be viewed at: www.bristolri.us/document/council/BCWA%20Performance%20Audit%20June%202011.pdf
It will be interesting to see what the end result of these negotiations is, especially when there is no water being processed. Bear in mind, ratepayers may be facing a probable rate increase in the 20 percent range in the near future.
We all realize at this point that there is no use crying over spilled milk. Many mistakes have been made by BCWA management. They need to take steps to cut their expenses and move forward to streamline their organization. Keeping salaries in line with similar jobs at similar water companies would be a good start.