TOWNSEND -- Beginning July 1, Townsend will have a Deputy Chief of Police, according to a contract between Lt. David Profit and the Board of Selectmen.
The job title was changed because the duties required by the position have evolved over the past 10 years, Profit told the Finance Committee on March 21. "The contract hasn't really changed," he said, "It's not a promotion, it's a reclassification."
Originally the job was more like a night operations position; now it requires more administration. Surrounding towns like Acton, Littleton and Tyngsborough have also reclassified the position, the 32-year police veteran said.
He is not part of the union and was not represented by legal counsel during the contract negotiations. Profit said he has not gotten a raise in six years. The new contract signed March 12 puts him on the wage and salary matrix as step 12 between levels six and seven.
"I took a percentage less for the title. I negotiated in good faith," he said. Profit's base salary for fiscal 2013 is $75,000. The new contract raises his base salary to $78,000, increasing to $79,560 in 2015 and $81,150 in 2016.
He came to the Finance Committee, whose job it is to advise the selectmen, to be proactive "and to avoid conflict on town floor," he said. "I don't want a repeat of what happened at Town Meeting last fall, and I want the support of the Finance Committee," Profit said.
At the last Town Meeting, Chief Erving Marshall said he did not want or need a deputy chief, Clerk Andrea Wood said.
Chief Marshall has had reservations about the position, Profit said, but he has acknowledged and aligned with the changes over the last year and a half. Marshall was not present at the meeting.
The Finance Committee questioned whether or not the position was a new position and if it should be posted as a vacancy. "This is a title we've never had listed," Wood said.
When a member of the Fire Department was named captain, committee member Carolyn Smart said legal counsel required the job to be posted because it was a new position.
The job is not new; it is a reclassification, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan. "The Board of Selectmen reclassified it. The Board of Selectmen can reclassify a position. I would suggest if the board has a problem, bring it to the Board of Selectmen," he said.
The committee did not give or deny its support to Profit, but will take his request into consideration. "We won't let you go into Town Meeting without knowing. We will not blindside you at Town Meeting ever," Wood said.
Wood began reviewing budget requests for what she termed the smaller departments for 2014. "None of the (operating) budgets are up a considerable amount. The salary things need talking about because the matrix has impacted everybody," she said. The departments she addressed were the town clerk, treasurer, assessor, Cemetery and Parks, Council on Aging and tax collector.
The committee will review larger departments like Fire, library, Police and Highway at a later meeting.
Wages and salaries for noncontract employees were adjusted last year under a new plan. "It will cost between $50,000 and $60,000 for matrix raises," Sheehan said.
Union contracts are still out for police, fire, communications and the highway department. Sheehan said he does not have a good handle on when they will be completed.
Wood asked that the information on wages and contracts be given to the committee in time to prepare a statement for Town Meeting.
"I don't think I'm going to have that with weeks to spare," Sheehan said.
"I just need three days. If we don't have the information to make a decision ... It will be up to you to defend it," she said.
In other business, a reserve fund transfer of $4,500 to repair and maintain equipment and vehicles for the Fire Department was approved. The request specified a rusty fuel tank.
An additional $25,000 was approved for deficit spending for snow and ice. The total authorized spending is $275,000 and the Highway Department is close to that, Sheehan said. Not all the figures from the latest storm are in.