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Clinton is suspending pension plan modifications for police and hearth departments till subsequent summer time

CLINTON – The Board of Selectmen this week voted to approve a future change to police and fire departments’ retirement plans but said it will not go into effect for another year.

The board met Tuesday and continued discussion on moving the fire and police departments to a plan for the Maine public sector pension system. Police Chief Stanley “Rusty” Bell and Fire Chief Travis Leary spoke out in favor of the plan earlier this month, saying it would improve agency staff retention and recruitment.

“I know both bosses feel pressured in this situation – they have departments that come after their existing employees, they try to keep them,” said Town Manager Earla Haggerty. “This is one way of keeping it.”

For the police, Bell had proposed funding a third full-time officer to instead pay the increased cost of the new plan for the other two full-time officers and give them a small increase.

The fire department doesn’t have that option, and if the plan went into effect this year, the city would have to use $ 13,000 from overlay to pay for it, Haggerty said.

Ultimately, the board members said they were unwilling to spend that money right away and would rather wait to add the cost to next year’s budget. The change would take effect in July 2022 if it is reflected in the budget.

“I would like to see it in next year’s budget,” said Selectman Geraldine Dixon. “But I want people to know that we want to do it for them.”

Chairman Jeffrey Towne said he felt the change now “bypasses the budget process” and would like to wait for residents to vote on it.

Haggerty said she also wished the issue had been raised last spring so that it could have been included in the current budget.

“There was no discussion about it last spring; There was no concern at all, ”she said. “This has happened lately because there is so much competition in employee retention and recruitment. Both bosses consider it an emergency situation with their department – whether the board considers this to be an emergency is another question. “

The new plan provides for a 25-year countdown to retirement for employees, starting on the first day of work. It also has a greater worker and city contribution than the current plan.

Now both the employee and the city contribute 3% of the employee’s salary. The new plan would include an employee contribution of approximately 8% and a city contribution of 13.8% of the employee’s gross wage.

The new plan would mean the other four city employees would have to change their retirement plans slightly, Haggerty said. “We can do that without the staff losing anything – it’s just a different carrier,” she said.

Both Bell and Leary said they have struggled over the years keeping employees who often move to other cities for better pay and benefits.

Earlier this month, nearby Pittsfield agreed to a side agreement with its police union to incentivize new officials. The agreement expanded residency requirements to 50 miles from the police station, set up a sick bank for employees, and offered new officers a $ 15,000 signing bonus in the first year.

While discussing the Clinton retirement plan, several voters asked if the change would really attract people if other cities offered bonuses.

TRUCK PURCHASES

The meeting on Tuesday also dealt with the purchase of a truck for the transfer station. The board previously discussed the need for employees at the transfer station to have a vehicle that they can use to collect rubbish from city parks and the city office. The employees currently use a personal vehicle for these tasks.

The board discussed the purchase of a certain truck, which has a large number of kilometers and has a plow and grinder attached to it. The owner said he would be willing to sell it for $ 8,000.

Selectmen questioned the need for the plow and grinder and suggested something smaller than this truck. They also questioned the price of the truck with the number of kilometers and finally instructed the transfer station to pass this vehicle on and keep looking.

The board went on to discuss the situation with the True Road culvert. Frank Gioffre, the city’s law enforcement officer and liaison for the Department of Environment, encouraged the board to act quickly so that the problem can be resolved next summer.

The time window for construction is only from July 15th to September 30th. In addition, the Ministry of Environment has stated that the project needs to be planned, said Gioffre.

He had spoken to Dirigo Engineering, a Fairfield-based company with experience on this type of project, and asked the board to approve the $ 20,000 cost of hiring the engineering firm.

The company will oversee and support the development of the project, Gioffre said, and there is an urgent need to move this now so that the city can fix this next summer.

“We’re draining over 3,500 hectares – that’s a lot of soil and there’s no guarantee how serious this will be, but I think we’re running out of time,” said Gioffre.

While there was a mild winter and spring, the increased rainfall that month has accelerated the site’s deterioration.

The board also agreed to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, August 3, at 6:30 p.m. on property taxes.

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