New Gloucester taking back retirement plan overpayments

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NEW GLOUCESTER — Selectmen on Monday voted to manage roughly $160,000 from overpayments to the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.

The money was used to pay the town’s portion of employee retirement plan contributions.

The system plans to transfer roughly $160,000 to New Gloucester beginning next spring. The money has been held since the 1990s.

In a letter to the town, Sherry Vandrell, director of finance for Maine Public Employees Retirement System, said, “We believe the best practice is to return these funds so that they can be properly governed, recorded, maintained and audited by each employer.”

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Town Manager Paul First said the town has been drawing down the surplus for years. The money may be placed in a Certificate of Deposit or similar secure investment.

The town’s current average payout from the funds totals $35,000 annually.

In other business Monday, the board agreed on a plan to address clearing snow around 10 fire hydrants and plowing the New Gloucester Water District Pump Station for the New Gloucester Water District.

The board agreed to award a contract to Levasseur Landscaping of New Gloucester to maintain the hydrants until June 30, 2015. The contract is for $1,200. A certificate of insurance will be required.

The water district requested assistance with snow removal for the hydrants from the pump station to Upper Gloucester, and plowing at the entrance and grounds surrounding the pump station on the Bald Hill Road. The money will come from the unbudgeted account.

The Public Works Department will plow the pump station and entrance. Both are on town property.

First said he contacted three contractors for estimates to clear the hydrants and prices ranged from $1,100 to $3,000.

The board reviewed the town’s Emergency Medical Services billing and collection report. The town ambulance responded to 189 calls in fiscal year 2014.

Medicare has paid for 52 transport calls for a total of $17,365; Medicaid payments for 26 calls are pending. Fifty-two calls using other insurance have yielded payments of $25,620 and those without insurance coverage included 59 calls with a collection of $15,735.

Of the $130,676 for the 189 calls, the town has received $60,346 to date, or 46 percent.

The board will develop a policy for ambulance transport for bills not collected. Plans will include checking with other towns and billing agencies.

The board approved the 2015-16 budget schedule, which includes receiving budget books Jan. 9 and holding workshops until Feb. 10. That’s when the Budget Committee begins its reviews. A schedule of meetings was set to prepare for the May 4, 2015, annual town meeting.

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