Bridgewater Town Council to weigh options for covering fire budget shortfall

Raises included in a new contract, negotiated with local firefighters by then-town manager Troy Clarkson, have put the Bridgewater Fire Department’s budget in the red. Prior to his departure in April, Clarkson told the councilors the agreement contained raises of 2 to 3 percent, which were incorporated into the department’s yearly budget. But in mid-summer, Interim Town Manager Richard Kerbel informed the council of a projected department shortfall of more than $400,000 . Contractual changes to how base pay was being calculated had caused pay increases of about 17 percent in some cases, according to Kerbel. The Town Council voted last week to consider its options for covering the deficit on Oct. 16. Meanwhile, Kerbel said he is in discussions with the firefighters union, although he reserved the details for an executive session with the council.