Trash and Recycling Pushed-Back One Day Beginning Wednesday (2/5/2014)

Posted by Bob on February 4, 2014 under Daily Blogs | Be the First to Comment

Trash and recycling collection will be delayed one day beginning Wednesday (2/5/2014) as a result of the inclement weather predicted for tomorrow morning (2/5/2014).  The schedule for the rest of this week only is as follows:

  • Regular Wednesday (2/5/2014) collection will be Thursday (2/6/2014);
  • Regular Thursday (2/6/2014) collection will be Friday (2/7/2o14); and
  • Regular Friday (2/7/2014) collection will be Saturday (2/8/2014).

Regular collection schedules will resume Monday (2/10/2014), weather permitting.  As always, please ensure all trash and recycling containers are placed curbside by midnight on the regular day of collection.  Trucks will occasionally be dispatched earlier than usual on the day of collection depending on scheduling constraints and/or weather-related disruptions.

Tri-Boards to Review Long Term School Proposal – 1/28/2014

Posted by Bob on January 28, 2014 under Daily Blogs | Be the First to Comment

The Long Term School Facility Planning Committee (“LTSFPC”) will present its final draft report to the Tri-Boards (Board of Education, Board of Finance and Board of Education seating together) tonight, (Tuesday, January 28, 2014) at City Hill Middle School (441 City Hill Street, Naugatuck, CT 06770) beginning at 6:30 PM.  This presentation will mark the first time most members of the Tri-Boards will be briefed on the LTSFPC’s detailed plan for Naugatuck school infrastructure over the next twenty (20) years.  The presentation is the culmination of over two (2) years of detailed research and analysis by members of the LTSFPC.

The report which will be presented to the Tri-Board may be viewed here in .pdf format.  The Microsoft PowerPoint presentation that will introduce the report can be viewed here in both PowerPoint and .pdf formats.

The LTSFPC, chaired by local Naugatuck attorney Pete Hess, was originally charged with formulating a long term vision for Naugatuck school infrastructure after the controversial redistricting imposed for the 2010-2011 school year.  The first phase of the plan has already begun implementation with the renovation of Naugatuck High School.  Recommendations regarding other Borough-owned buildings in Downtown Naugatuck such as the Naugatuck Train Station, Building 25 and the Naugatuck Town Hall have been incorporated into the report.   

The Tri-Boards meeting is open to the public.  While public comment will not be solicited at this particular meeting, there will be ample opportunity to comment in the future.

Borough Departments to Open at Noon on Friday (1/3/2014)

Posted by Bob on January 3, 2014 under Daily Blogs | Be the First to Comment

The Naugatuck Town Hall, Naugatuck Senior Center  and all other non-emergency management departments will open at 12:00 Noon today (Friday, January 3, 2014) as a result of the snow and winter weather.  Employees working in non-emergency management departments should report to work at 12:00 Noon today (1/3/2014).

All employees working within departments with emergency management responsibilities (including but not limited to the Fire Department, Police Department and Department of Public Works) shall remain on regular schedules at the discretion of supervisors.

The Naugatuck Senior Center will function as a warming center from 12:00 Noon to 4:00 PM.  Anyone in need of long term sheltering should use the 2-1-1 system to find available spaces within the region. Please contact 9-1-1 for true emergencies.

If at all possible, we urge residents to avoid travel until the end of the storm.  Be safe.

UPDATE – 5:25 AM – 1/4/2013 – TRASH AND RECYCLING COLLECTION ON REGULAR HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

Naugatuck trash and recycling collection remains on regular holiday schedule with collection routes pushed-back one day from New Year’s Day (i.e. regular Wednesday collection was Thursday, Thursday collection is Friday and Friday collection is Saturday). Residents with regular Thursday collection should have already placed containers curbside for Friday (1/3/2013) collection.  We have been experiencing difficulties with some of our recycling trucks, but residents are still urged to place garnet recycling barrels curbside for their regular holiday collection day.  If a recycling container is not collected on its regular holiday collection day, it will likely be collected the following day.   Frequently asked trash and recycling questions can be viewed here.  Please feel free to contact the Department of Public Works at 203-720-7071 or 203-720-7072 with any questions.

First Phase of Naugatuck Greenway To Be Formally Opened Today – 12/20/2013

Posted by Bob on December 20, 2013 under Daily Blogs | Be the First to Comment

Construction of the first phase of the Naugatuck Greenway was recently completed after many years in the planning

View of the Naugatuck Greenway just south of the Pulaski Footbridge.

process.  The Naugatuck Department of Public Works will host a brief ceremony today, Friday, December 20, 2013, to formally open the Greenway to the public.  The ceremony will take place at 2:30 PM, at the new pocket park on the east side of the Pulaski Footbridge, across the Naugatuck River from the Polish-American Club (199 Bridge Street, Naugatuck,  CT 06770).  Local officials have been invited to attend the event, which is open to the public.

The portion of the Greenway at which the ceremony will take place will also be dedicated to Naugatuck boxing great “Irish” Pat Mallane. A proud product of the Union City section of the Borough, Pat Mallane was one of the most accomplished fighters in the Naugatuck Valley. During an distinguished career that was ultimately ended by obligations to family, Irish Pat Mallane earned title fights for the Connecticut and New England lightweight championships.  The highlight of his boxing career may have well been fighting lightweight champion of the world, Patty DeMarco, to a draw in front of a packed crowd in Bridgeport,  CT.  A lifelong resident of Union City, “Irish” Pat Mallane is remembered by all as a man loyal to his family, friends and community.

The first phase of the Naugatuck Greenway is just over one mile in length, spanning from the Pulaski Footbridge in Union City south along the Naugatuck River to the pocket park at the bottom of Exit 27 off Route 8 along Maple Street. Ultimately, it is planned that the pedestrian trail will extend north to the Waterbury border, and south through the picturesque valley of the state forest to the Beacon Falls line.  Greenway construction and planning is happening in all towns through the Naugatuck River Valley in the hopes of one day creating a forty four (44) mile, multi-use trail system from Torrington to Derby.

Borough, Supervisors Reach New Agreement – 12/20/2013

Posted by Bob on under Daily Blogs | Read the First Comment

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses (“BMB”) unanimously authorized execution of a new collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the Borough and the Naugatuck Supervisors collective bargaining unit (“CBU”), Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”), Local 2001 (“UPSEU”), at the special meeting held on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.  The agreement, which covers the period from July 1, 2013 (retroactively) through June 30, 2016, can be viewed here.  A summary of the fiscal analysis of the CBA prepared by Director of Human Resources John Lawlor can be viewed here in both Microsoft Word and .pdf format.

The CBA includes changes in contributions to existing employee health benefits similar to the agreements reached with other bargaining units.  A summary of the CBA is as follows:

Health Care:

The Borough achieved significant cost savings as a result of changes to health benefit packages offered to the members of the CBU.  Two choices are offered to members:  the traditional preferred provider organization or “PPO”; and the high deductible health plan or “HDHP”, which for the plan offered is a health savings account or “HSA”.  Many members of the CBU have already switched to the HSA through previous negotiations.

PPO

Beginning on January 1, 2014, the premium cost share for members in enrolled in the PPO plan will increase from eight (8%) percent to nine (9%) percent.  Premium cost shares for members will increase to ten (10%) percent and eleven and 50/100ths (11.5%) percent respectively on July 1, 2014; and July 1, 2015.

HDHP or HSA

The Borough and the Supervisors CBU agreed to changes to the existing HSA plan that will result in savings. Beginning January 1, 2015, members will pay four (4%) percent for the premium cost share of the HSA.  That percentage will rise to  six (6%) percent beginning January 1, 2016.    Effective January 1, 2014, the HSA deductible will shift to a TWO THOUSAND and 00/100THS ($2,000.00) DOLLAR / FOUR THOUSAND and 00/100THS ($4,000.00) DOLLAR plan.

More importantly, members enrolled in the HSA will gradually increase the deductible paid toward their respective plan in the following manner over the life of the agreement (plans are managed on the basis of calendar years rather than fiscal years):

  • Beginning January 1, 2014: members will pay twenty five (25%) percent of the deductible;
  • Beginning January 1, 2015: members will increase their portion of the deductible to thirty five (35%) percent; and
  • Beginning January 1, 2016: members will increase their portion of the deductible to fifty (50%) percent.

The changes to the health benefits contained in the CBA represent significant savings to the Borough over the three (3) year period.  Said savings are estimated to total THIRTY SIX THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED NINETEEN and 46/100THS ($36,819.46) DOLLARS over the life of the CBA.  Said calculation was made by the Borough’s Finance Department using a conservative eleven (11%) percent annual interest in health care premiums.  Unfortunately, given the current climate of providing health benefits in the United States, this is just slightly above the average renewal rates.

Pensions

No changes were made to the pension as an agreement was reached in a previous agreement to provide defined contribution pension plans to new members of the CBU.  The defined benefit pension plan is no longer offered to new hires in any of the Borough’s seven (7) municipal bargaining units.

Wages:

Members of the CBU will received increases in general wages for the following years at the following rates:

  • 2013-2014:  Two and 15/100ths (2.15%) percent (retroactive to July 1, 2013);
  • 2014-2015:  Two and 15/100ths (2.15%) percent; and
  • 2015-2016:  Two and 25/100ths (2.25%) percent.

In addition, the Borough agreed to increase the longevity payments by FIFTY and 00/100THS ($50.00) DOLLARS over existing rates.  The longevity payment schedule is as follows:

  • Ten (10) years of service or over:  TWO HUNDRED and 00/100THS ($200.00) DOLLARS;
  • Twenty (20) years of service or over:  THREE HUNDRED and 00/100THS ($300.00) DOLLARS; and
  • Thirty (30) years of service of over:  FOUR HUNDRED and 00/100THS ($400.00) DOLLARS.

After calculating the savings achieved through savings to the health care benefits, the total cost of the new CBA for the fifteen (15) member bargaining unit is estimated at ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIXTY THREE and 02/100THS ($124,363.02) DOLLARS, over the three (3) years of the agreement.  That represents the following net percentage increases, inclusive of the health care savings:

  • 2013 – 2014:  2.52%
  • 2014 – 2015:  1.95%
  • 2015 – 2016:  1.33%
  • TOTAL:            6.04%
A fiscal analysis of the aforementioned totals including positions can be viewed in both Microsoft Excel and .pdf version. Said fiscal analysis also includes the changes made to conservatively estimate overtime costs as certain CBU members are required to be classified inclusive of overtime to comply with federal labor law.

Other Changes

The Borough and the Supervisors CBU also agreed to other language changes in the new CBA, including but not limited to the following:

  • Changes to the recognition clause identifying CBU positions;
  • Reserving the right to change payment to bi-weekly and allowing for direct deposit;
  • Clarifying exempt v. non-exempt positions on the Fair Labor Standards Act; and
  • Implementing an evaluation process for all members of the CBU.

Our administration would like to thank the members of the SEIU Local 2001, particularly the representatives on the negotiating team, for respectful and productive dialogue.  Borough Labor Counsel Nick Grello and Director of Human Resources John Lawlor worked reach agreement and finalize the language of the new CBA once the main components of the deal were completed.  Borough Controller Bob Butler provided the fiscal analysis and supporting detail.

We sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment demonstrated by our supervisors on a daily basis.  Their commitment to assisting in implementing policy changes and increasing efficiencies in their respective departments is a critical part of any successful organization.  We also recognize the negotiating team for working toward a more sustainable health benefit system for its membership and the Borough alike.  The terms of the CBA are consistent with previous agreements reached with Borough teachers, clerical employees, visiting nurses, police officers and firefighters which combined modest pay increases with significant health care savings. Given the constraints of the state’s current collective bargaining law , the new CBU represents an equitable compromise between both parties.

 

Clarification Regarding Winter Storm Parking Ban – 12/17/2013

Posted by Bob on December 17, 2013 under Daily Blogs | 5 Comments to Read

We have received multiple communications with regard to the Winter weather parking ban in the Borough.  The parking ban, which is authorized by our Code of Ordinances, begins at the beginning of any snow or ice fall and remains in effect until twelve (12) hours after the end of the precipitation.  All streets are covered by the parking ban, except those that are specifically exempted.  Information about the parking ban, including a list of exempted streets or portions thereof, is available on the Borough’s website.  While we will sometimes reinforce the existence of the parking ban through various communications in preparation for and/or during a major storm, the ban is in effect for all Winter snow or ice events.

The Naugatuck Police Department (“NPD”) recently completed a thorough review of all streets relative to the parking ban. Revisions were made during this process to the list of exempted streets.  While we can continue to review whether or not a street or portion thereof should be included in the parking ban exemptions, there are unlikely to be any changes to the current list during the 2013 – 2014 Winter season.  We respectfully request the cooperation of residents and visitors with regard to adherence to the parking ban so that public safety and public works personnel will be able to do their respective jobs.  Thank you and be safe.

Fire Police Hosting Drive to Benefit Naugatuck Food Bank (11/23/2013 & 11/24/2013)

Posted by Bob on November 22, 2013 under Daily Blogs | Be the First to Comment

The Naugatuck Fire Police are hosting a “Stuff-A-Cruiser” Food Drive this Saturday (11/23/2013) and Sunday (11/24/2013) at the Naugatuck Stop and Shop, 727 Rubber Avenue, Naugatuck, CT 06770.  Fire Police will be present on both days (11/23/2013 & 11/24/2013) between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM to collect non-perishable food donations to benefit the Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank.  All support is welcomed and very much appreciated.

Updated Election Results

Posted by Bob on November 6, 2013 under Daily Blogs | Be the First to Comment

Results from tonight’s municipal elections in Naugatuck are as follows (* indicates election, subject to any recount):

Mayor

  • *Bob Mezzo    3068
  • James O’Sullivan    1711

Burgesses (Top Nine Elected)

  • *Tamath Rossi    2944 (Deputy Mayor)
  • *Robert Neth    2507 (Second Deputy Mayor)
  • *Michael Bronko    2326
  • *Lori Taf Jackson    2279
  • *Catherine Ernsky    2155
  • *Rocky Vitale    2107
  • *Robert Burns    1957
  • *Patrick Scully    1930
  • *Alex Olbrys    1843
  • Edward Fennell    1821
  • Henry Kuczenski    1761
  • Jimmy Ayash    1576
Board of Education (Top Eight Elected)
  • Dorothy Neth-Kunin    2663
  • Diana Malone   2361
  • Scott Slauson    2358
  • James Scully    2229
  • David Heller    2188
  • James Jordan 2027
  • Glenn Connan    1985
  • Ethel Grant    1893
  • Eleanor Destafano-Ruggles    1719
Tax Collector
  • James Goggin    2986
  • Ray Fayad    1603
Town Clerk
  • Michelle Dowling    2989
  • Lois Braziel    1469
All vote totals are still subject to adjustment and recount if necessary.  According to reports we have received, the numbers above will be submitted by the Naugatuck Registrars to the Secretary of the State.

Unofficial Election Results

Posted by Bob on November 5, 2013 under Daily Blogs | 3 Comments to Read

Unofficial results from tonight’s municipal elections in Naugatuck are as follows:

Mayor

  • Bob Mezzo    3068
  • James O’Sullivan    1695

Burgesses (Top Nine Elected)

  • Tamath Rossi    2926 (*Deputy Mayor)
  • Robert Neth    2693
  • Michael Bronko    2303
  • Lori Taf Jackson    2263
  • Catherine Ernsky    2136
  • Rocky Vitale    2097
  • Robert Burns    1942
  • Patrick Scully    1917
  • Edward Fennell    1907
  • Alex Olbrys    1827
  • Henry Kuczenski    1753
  • Jimmy Ayash    1562
Board of Education (Top Eight Elected)
  • Dorothy Neth-Kunin    2646
  • David Heller    2428
  • Diana Malone    2343
  • James Scully    2216
  • Scott Slauson    2150
  • James Jordan 2014
  • Glenn Connan    1970
  • Ethel Grant    1879
  • Eleanor Destafano-Ruggles    1703
Tax Collector
  • James Goggin    2971
  • Ray Fayad    1588
Town Clerk
  • Michelle Dowling    2972
  • Lois Braziel    1456
All vote totals are preliminary and subject to recount if necessary.

Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association – 9/26/2013

Posted by Bob on September 26, 2013 under Daily Blogs | Read the First Comment

There has been a lot of conversation locally the past few months about the future of the Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association (“NVNA”).  Unfortunately the difference between fact v. fiction and truth v. rumor can be significant.  An honest discussion may serve to clarify what is actually happening.

While the following is meant to provide insight into local decision-making, the reality is that no decisions have yet been made.  The NVNA is currently conducting business as it always has: providing professional, home health care services in a compassionate manner to Naugatuck residents.  The department employs exceptional nurses and support staff who take great pride in caring for patients and their families.  Maintaining that quality and protecting the employees of NVNA remain a priority.

HISTORY

The NVNA has been in existence for ninety four (94) years.  Generations of nurses have served generations of Naugatuck patients and their families by providing high quality, home health care services.  Many patients continue to ask for specific nurses by name given the positive experiences they have had throughout the years.

For many years visiting nurses associations operated in numerous Connecticut cities and towns as municipal departments.  This meant that nurses and support staff were employees of the municipal government in which the association conducted its business.  Over the years, the structure of many municipal visiting nurses associations has changed as the economics of health care transformed the industry.  While some visiting nurses associations folded, many transitioned to not-for-profit and for-profit organizations in cooperation with other entities outside of municipal government.  This often resulted in creating larger economies of scale and allowing visiting nurses associations to attract patients outside of municipal boundary areas.

The NVNA, however, remains a municipal department of the Borough of Naugatuck.  Based on research over the past few months, we estimate that there are only about five (5) visiting nurses associations in Connecticut that retain this structure of municipal employment.

In recent years, local leaders have begun to question the Borough’s role in social services and health care.  As a burgess from 1999 – 2003, I remember the conversations during the budget process that focused upon whether or not the municipal government should be funding various agencies such as the NVNA, Youth and Family Services (“NYFS”) and the Human Resources and Development Agency (“HRD” – which is a non-profit but receives funds from the Borough).  Occasionally members of the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses (“Joint Boards”) would threaten to vote against funding particular agencies on the basis that the Borough should no longer and/or could not afford to be involved in providing such services.

Those voicing opposition to funding the NVNA have grown in number the past few budget years.  The question that could not be answered, however, has been: “What will happen to all those served by local agencies if they no longer exist?” There really has never been a good answer given to that question.  While the Joint Boards could certainly choose not to fund the NVNA, there would clearly be disruption to patient and employees if such action was not accompanied by a plan.

Recently the Joint Boards approved funding for a strategic analysis of local government by an outside consultant.  Such a process is common in private industry, but is a relatively new concept for local governments.  While the planning process included all aspects of municipal and board of education operations, it was agreed that an outside perspective would also be helpful to provide guidance with regard to the NVNA and other social service agencies. Ultimately the respective firm of BlumShapiro was selected as the consultant, and the plan was recently completed this past July.

The BlumShapiro strategic planning report recommended that the Borough investigate if there are other ways to deliver home health care services outside of municipal government.  Given that most visiting nurses associations have reduced wage and benefits costs by separating from local governments, it was suggested that Naugatuck seek partners in the non-profit and/or private sectors with regard to such services.  At no time did the BlumShapiro report criticize the quality of the services provided by the NVNA.  To the contrary, significant praise has been directed toward the NVNA and its staff by numerous individuals throughout our community and region.

For the past several weeks, our office has been meeting with various providers in the area to gauge interest and investigate possible partnerships.  This process continues, and no decisions have yet been made.

FACT from FICTION

Rumors spread quickly in all walks of life and different people draw different conclusions based on conversations they have with others.  While such a reality is magnified in the context of local government, it is important to separate what is not true before stating what is.

Quality of Care

As stated above, nothing about the current process involves the quality of care provided by NVNA nurses and home health aides.  Patient satisfaction is very high and patients often specifically request the NVNA when provided with home health care options.  NVNA nurses are paid less than many of their colleagues in the private sector, but perform exceptionally and compassionately on a daily basis.  Despite the uncertainty of any possible changes, they continue to treat new and existing patients in this manner.  Potential partners with whom we speak reinforce this reality with their consistent, high praise for the NVNA.

Business Administration of NVNA

In addition, the NVNA operates quite efficiently despite significant challenges and obstacles.  The administrative team and clerical and billing operation conduct the business affairs of the NVNA professionally and effectively.  Despite the inability to care for patients outside of Naugatuck’s boundaries and affiliations and referral networks available to competitors, NVNA usually operates within budget and will return a small surplus once the 2012 – 2013 budget is fully reconciled next month (exclusive of benefits).  Significant obstacles from licensing authorities and increasing regulatory oversight makes such a task difficult, but both NVNA’s clinical and financial management remains outstanding.  This is true despite the rapid changes to and uncertainty involved with our national health care system.

The NVNA Remains Fully Operational

The daily operations of the NVNA continue uninterrupted.  Patients are seen as usual.  Referrals are made as usual.  The NVNA remains fully staffed.  Contractual obligations with service providers are being honored and new vendors continue to be engaged in the usual manner.  The NVNA is fully funded for the 2013 – 2014 fiscal year.

Privatization

Some have suggested that the Borough is simply trying to privatize the NVNA.  Such a perception requires some context.  No local government is required to offer home health care services to its citizens.  If no partnership is made with another visiting nurses organization, there are basically two (2) possible results during the next budget process for the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year:  (i) the Joint Boards continues to fund all or portions of the NVNA and business occurs as usual; or (ii) the Joint Boards chooses not to fund the NVNA.  The latter is a very possible outcome given recent deliberations between members of the Joint Boards.  Under such a scenario, the Borough simply stops providing home health care services to its residents and employing the staff of the NVNA.  As long as the Borough does not engage another entity to provide the service, no privatization occurs.  The Borough simply stops offering the service and closes the agency.  It is by far the path of least resistance, but creates the most disruption to patients and employees.

WHAT REALLY IS HAPPENING

Given that some change, which has been talked about for over a decade, is likely to occur in the near future; we have begun to explore options.  We have met with potential partners over the past few weeks and continue to gather information about various agencies in the area.  Both the executive director and the clinical supervisor have participated in discussions.  Information is available to representatives of each bargaining unit involved as well as an open invitation to discuss concerns.

Throughout this process we maintain three (3) objectives with regard to any potential partnerships:

1.         To preserve the quality of home health care services available to Borough residents;

2.         To protect the amazing employees of the NVNA to the best degree possible; and

3.       To maintain the identity and/or branding of the high quality home health care services associated with the Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association.

Achieving all three (3) objectives will require a significant amount of time, diligence and skillful negotiation, but none are achievable if we simply allow the NVNA to be eliminated by a budget cut.  While reducing the costs associated with local government is always a priority, doing so in a fiscally and morally responsible manner is critical.

When a viable proposal is ready for presentation, we will seek public comment.  Ultimately only the Board of Mayor and Burgesses can bind the Borough to a valid agreement involving finances with a third party.  All provisions of our collective bargaining agreements are subject to state and/or federal labor laws.

As with any change, there will be a certain level of anxiety by all involved.  Open communication is important to separate the truth from reality, and make the best choices for our community moving forward.  Please feel free to contact me by phone (office:  203-720-7009 / cell:  203-217-0876) or email (bob@bobmezzo.com or bmezzo@naugatuck-ct.gov  ) with any questions and/or comments.

 

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