Lanesborough Approves Police Contract; Asks PCTV To Run TV

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Selectmen narrowly approved the three-year contract with the police union.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen will have to amend the budget from town meeting floor on Tuesday to support the new Police Department contract.

The Board of Selectmen approved the new agreement with the police union on Monday night but it isn't totally what they wanted. In fact, the Selectmen narrowly denied it. When Chairman John Goerlach asked for a motion to accept it, he didn't get one.

The Selectmen later went into executive session to discuss it and returned with a 2-1 vote to accept.

"I feel the police could have compromised and given up at least one personal day," said Selectman Robert Ericson, who voted against the contract.

According to Paul Sieloff, who headed the contract negotiation, the Police did not concede any of their current benefits and received 2 percent raised. But, they did accept lesser benefits for future employees. The contract is for three years.

"It's been a good give and take. I think it is a mutually beneficial contract," Sieloff said. "It has basic cost of living increases but it has things that they're helping us with to help future costs."

Ericson said the Highway Department union worked with the town on its contract and is receiving only a 1.5 percent raise. And workers gave up some personal time, which Ericson said has mostly been used to supplement vacations.

"The police are unwilling to give up anything that affects them today," Ericson said. "I'm just disappointed that we are willing to give them more money but they are unwilling to give us anything."

However, Sieloff said there will be "significant" savings in the long term because of the new contract. He added that the laws around police contracts make it even more difficult, so getting to this point is an accomplishment.

"I know there has been concern about it but you can't always get what you want," Sieloff said.

The contract calls for the addition of $7,000 more to the town's $10 million budget.

In other business, the Selectmen gave Sieloff the approval to go ahead with discussions with Pittsfield Community Television to take over broadcasting the town's meetings.

Ronald Tinkham currently heads Lanesborough Community Television but is looking to "back off." The town has struggled to find volunteers interested in taking over, so Sieloff began looking outside for someone to take over.

"One of the priorities is to have a functioning station and have the Selectmen meetings taped and a few of the School Committee meetings," Sieloff said, and PCTV can provide that.

The town would pay some $275 a month for PCTV to run the Lanesborough station at a basic level. The town receives money to run the station so the contract with PCTV wouldn't be an extra cost.

"This proposal gets you the technical expertise needed for running the station. They have similar equipment," Tinkham said. "I think it is a good proposal and well within the cost."

Sieloff said he'd like to start with them airing the Board of Selectmen meetings and a few School Committee meetings. Tinkham said Willinet (in Williamstown) already provides the tapes of the Mount Greylock Regional High School Committee for airing. Later, Sieloff said they could look into expanding the offerings.

The Selectmen had some questions with the wording and want to make sure these meetings air. But, overall, PCTV seems like a good suitor, they decided.

"I think the concept is OK,," Ericson said. "I want to see it fleshed out."

The board also wants to see the financials to make sure it is affordable.

Tags: contract negotiations,   Lanesborough,   PCTV,   public television,   raises,   town meeting 2014,   

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