Board to consider new voluntary
benefit plan for town employees
By Becky Harvey
DUDLEY - Dudley Fire Chief Dean Kochanowski announced at the August 6th Board of Selectmen meeting that he was able to successfully win a grant that will allow the town to hire one additional personnel for the department. The S.A.F.E.R. (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Grant, part of the FEMA program, was “created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help them increase the number of trained, ‘front line’ firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards established by the NFPA and OSHA,” according to the FEMA website. The grant was approved in the amount of $117,515 and is good for two years of employment. It will cover salary and benefits for one daytime position. Selectmen had previously voted to accept the grant. At this meeting they also voted to accept the job-posting as provided by the chief.
Also covered in the meeting was the option of offering voluntary benefits to town employees through Colonial Life instead of Aflac. New England Enrollments Strategy is the largest voluntary insurance agency for Colonial Life in New England. They boasted that they offer more and better benefits to their clients, including guaranteed college scholarship programs that are based on matched employee earnings and can cover up to a full year (or twenty-five percent) of a four-year college for tuition. Other towns which have signed on with New England Enrollments Strategy have an average of ninety percent participation in programs like this one. The only benefit that the NEES does not offer that Aflac does is voluntary dental. They already work with towns like Webster, Northbridge, Lynn and Framingham, and they are endorsed by the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce. The company offers additional life, short-term disability and other “gap” insurances. They claim they offer 20 to 30 percent savings to employees off of Aflac prices due to the lack of advertising on the part of Colonial Life. The selectmen moved that the town treasurer and administrator come up with a proposal for benefits through NEES along with the request to have them obtain copies of the proposals they have with the towns of Webster and Charlton, for comparison.
Discussions of the nineteen-year proposed solar contracts commenced during the meeting. Robert Babcock of EPG Solar Net Metering spoke about the discount they offer to towns over the “net meter credits.” He claimed that their discounts were, on average, one hundred percent higher than any of their competitors. The town is actively pursuing adding solar energy to save money and be greener. In his update to the selectmen, Babcock spoke about how their financing deals would add to the town’s savings. Questions regarding what would happen after the contract expired were asked. Babcock stated that the proposed solar farm would be housed outside of town. After the length of the term of the contract, due to the fact the “farm” is leased, not purchased, the facility would be dismantled. Selectman Peter Fox stated that there needs to be a five-year right to review, should the contract be signed. The selectmen decided not to execute the contract at the meeting and requested it be amended with the five-year review clause.
Selectmen welcomed homeowners from Circle Drive, a private road. The town has been unable to plow from 6th Avenue to Paula Lane because plow drivers would be required to plow or drive over Circle Drive. As it is private, that is not allowed without easements from all the abutters. They discussed at length the best way to go about legally allowing plowing. It was decided that easements from all owners would be sought. So far all but one owner has shown interest in cooperating.
The Dudley selectmen reappointed Officer Philip Megas to a probationary one-year term at the August 6th meeting. They also reappointed Sergeant Pamela Daniel, a Retired Reserve Officer and Daniel Gion, the Interim Tree Warden, for another year.
- Wednesday, 08 August 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News