CUMBERLAND - The Town Council this past week adopted resolutions authorizing Mayor Daniel J. McKee to enter into new three-year employment agreements with Police Chief John R. Desmarais, Director of Rescue Services Sean Thompson, and Water Superintend-ent J. Christopher Champi.
Before the pacts were approved, the council's finance subcommittee voted to endorse the contract agreements and forward them to the council as resolutions.
Desmarais' new three-year contract, which went into effect March 1 and expires Feb. 28, 2014, includes a base salary of $78,000 per year beginning March 1, with an increase of 2.5 percent next year and another 2.5 percent the year after. Any annual increase beyond that will be at least equal to that received by members of the town's executive staff, according to the agreement.
The contract package also includes a $1,350 per year clothing allowance, longevity pay, health care coverage, life insurance and a town vehicle.
Desmarais, a former deputy chief in Central Falls, has been Cumberland's chief of police for the past six years. He is also a member of the Rhode Island and New England Police Chiefs Associations.
The Cumberland Police Department earned national accreditation in 2009. Of the approximately 15,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada, only 450 - including Cumberland - are accredited. Accreditation serves to distinguish participating organizations as having met professional standards of conduct and service.
McKee reminded the council at its meeting Wednesday that voters in November approved a charter change ballot question that grants permission for multi-year contracts to be negotiated for the police chief and rescue director. As a result of that charter change, the two positions will overlap the election cycle so they aren't dependent on a mayor's election success.
"This was clarified by the voters that we can enter into a contract with the chief of police and rescue director," McKee said. "I think everyone agrees that having continuity in public safety makes sense. We're fortunate right now to have a vary qualified individual that is sitting in that seat as chief of police. This provides security for the chief. It also benefits the taxpayers to know that John is willing to commit himself to a three-year agreement."
The three-year contract for Thompson, which also expires in February of 2014, includes an annual salary of $63,000 beginning March 1, with an annual increase in the future at least equal to that received by members of the town's executive staff.
Champi's contract calls for an initial salary of $76,000 through July 2011. Beginning on July 1 and every July 1 thereafter, his salary will increase by an amount to be approved by the mayor and council.
Champi, a 20-year veteran of the Water Department, was the department's former senior foreman before he was appointed assistant superintendent of the department last year. He took over the job as superintendent in January.
"It's great that we have someone like Chris with his capability and dedication to the community," McKee said.