DERRY — Firefighters would have seen an increase in pay but also an increase in the percentage they must pay toward their health insurance premium, according to terms of a proposed contract that failed to gain the approval of the Town Council two weeks ago.

Four councilors — Kevin Coyle, Brent Carney, Janet Fairbanks and Beverly Ferrante — voted against the contract, saying the pact contained provisions they could not support. None has been willing to specify what prompted a rejection of International Association of Firefighters Local 4392 a new contract with the town.

Garry Williams, president of the firefighters and fire officers union, said last week negotiations with the town continue. Information about an agreement could be available later this week, he said, but Williams declined comment on specifics.

"The council blew it," said Williams on Feb. 5, after councilors voted, 4-3, to deny the contract. The union has been working without a contract for nearly eight months.

According to a summary of financial changes in the proposed contract provided to the Derry News by Town Administrator Gary Stenhouse, firefighters would have received a raise of 2.5 percent in the first year, and their share of health insurance premiums would have increased to 13.2 percent, from the 12 percent they pay under the terms of the contract that expired on June 30, 2007. Until a new contract is approved, firefighters will continue to work by the terms of that contract.

Firefighters in neighboring Londonderry pay a larger percentage of their salary for health insurance.

According to the rejected contract, the contribution would have increased 14 percent once the firefighters received retroactive pay raises and would have increased again to 15 percent starting on July 1, 2008. Contributions would not exceed $48.45 for a two-person plan and $65.41 for a family plan per week, according to the documents provided by Stenhouse.

By contrast, Londonderry firefighters who were hired before July 1, 2004, pay 15 percent of their health insurance premiums, and employees who were hired after that date pay 25 percent.

Firefighters in Derry would receive a larger financial incentive to bypass the town's insurance policy.

In Derry, under terms of the proposed contract, firefighters who chose not to use the town's health insurance would have received $10,720.68 a year for the family plan or $7,941.24 a year for a two-person plan to be used toward obtaining their own insurance.

But starting in July in Londonderry, firefighters who were hired before July 1, 2004, receive a check for $6,244 for a family plan and $4,235 for a two-person plan to buy out of the town's insurance plan.

The buyout for Londonderry firefighters will decrease over the next two years of the contract.

The 2.5 percent increase that Derry firefighters would have received if their contract had been approved would have been followed by a raise of 2.2 percent in the second year of the deal.

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