by Margo Marrone
Approximately 70 people attended to special meeting to re-vote the Town Budget. The budget of $101,422.63, of which $889,837.07 is to be raised through taxes, was approved by a vote of 41 to 29. Notices had been mailed out previously detailing some of the changes & noting that the amount was slightly higher than the original budget.
At the start of the meeting, Kathy Lynds immediately moved to amend the figure to include a raise in the three Selectmen’s compensation from $600 per year to $1,200 per year. Although she noted their hard work & that there had not been an increase in many years, the motion was rather soundly defeated.
Selectman, Ralph Michael responded to Eric Johnsen’s concern about the cost of health insurance for Town employees. Ralph said that he had consulted with the League of Cities & Towns & that our package is comparable to Mt Holly, Shrewsbury, & Reading. Also, extra was included in the budget with the anticipation that rates will increase in January.
The discussion became a bit heated with concern mentioned by Betsy Tonkin about possible overuse of medical services, since there is no deductible. At that point, several people made suggestions about exploring other options for coverage.
The cost issue became clouded when discussion turned to whether or not all Town employees were offered benefits for their spouses & significant others. Apparently that was not a concern brought up by employees, but by others in the community. This brought former Town Clerk, Rachael Lynds to her feet to explain past town procedures.
Pepper Tepperman took issue with the increased hours for the Town Clerk & the Ass’t Clerk, asking the Selectmen to detail the duties & why more hours were needed. A lively discussion ensued & was finally ended with the suggestion that she could shadow staff to see exactly what their duties entail. Bill Cherico commented that perhaps with the extra hours, consideration might be given to having Sat hours once per month, since we have so many second home owners.
Toward the end of the meeting it was determined that no changes could be made in regard to health insurance until the new enrollment period, 1/12. The Selectmen agreed to look at other insurance packages. John Wheeler called the question & asked for a paper ballot, which provided an opportunity for folks to stretch their legs & greet one another.