JAY — A resident questioned selectmen at the July 20 meeting about why a personnel policy that governs town department heads couldn’t be changed now instead of next year.

The Board of Selectmen postponed taking action on an amended Professional Level Employee Personnel Policy on July 20 until a full board could be present. Even when the full board is there, Town Manager Ruth Marden said Selectman Warren Bryant wouldn’t be able to vote on the policy because his wife, Lisa Bryant, is the town’s financial director.

Others covered under the policy are Sewer Department Superintendent Mark Holt, highway foreman John Johnson, police Chief Larry White, Code Enforcement Officer Shiloh Ring, Town Clerk/Office Manager Ronda Palmer and transfer station supervisor Bob Sanders.

Those employees are not covered by union agreements.

Initially selectmen postponed action until Monday, Aug. 3, but that meeting has since been canceled. The policy, along with the town’s updated personnel policy, are now scheduled to be taken up at the Monday, Aug. 17, selectmen’s meeting.

Marden told selectmen and members of the public on July 20 that the professional level policy covers the current fiscal year running from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.

She has put it on her calendar and made notes to herself that selectmen would like to revisit the policy during discussion on the fiscal 2010-2011 budget.

Resident Justin Merrill wanted to know why the policy couldn’t be changed now while it is fresh in selectmen’s minds.
Merrill said there were too many benefits for employees, including having one day off for the death of a spouse’s grandparents. He also said if selectmen were not willing to lessen the benefits, townspeople would elect town officials who would.

The proposed policy also entitles employees to seven consecutive working days leave for death of an employee’s parents, stepparents, spouse or child. They are also entitled to three consecutive working days leave upon the death of an employee’s brother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren.

Other benefits coming under fire were stipends for degrees. According to the proposed policy, employees with a degree in a related field shall receive an incentive at the start of each fiscal year. Those with an associate degree receive $250, a bachelor’s degree, $350 and a master’s degree, $500.

Marden said the wording in the policy is exactly the same language in the union contracts that cover other employees. There were concessions made this year with the elimination of a clothing allowance and switching to a health insurance plan that requires employees to pay more for their own health care, she said. It is expected to save the town $60,000 to $70,000 each year.

The department heads received a three percent pay increase in the current budget, just as the members of unions did. Marden, who is not covered by those agreements, opted to take no pay increase in salary this year. The union contracts are good for three years and were finalized earlier this year. Department heads’ wages are reviewed annually.

Other benefits in the proposed policy include having off the holidays of New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and 15 floating holidays.

Board Chairman Steve McCourt said the policy has been reviewed annually, except for 2005 and 2006. The current policy was adopted by the board on Sept. 24, 2001. It was amended in 2002, twice in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008.

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