STRONG — Board of Selectmen Chairman Dick Worthley submitted his resignation at Tuesday’s meeting, saying the board has “lost focus” on how to govern. It was effective immediately.

Worthley, who was re-elected to a second term in March, read his statement to board members Mike Pond, Rodney Cook and Vice Chairman Rob Elliot. Rodney Spiller was absent.

“It is my opinion that this board of selectmen has lost focus of how a select board should function,” Worthley said. “We should ensure town government operates as efficiently as possible and support our employees to make them as successful as possible.

“Instead we only focus on one man’s agenda that, in my mind, is not in the best interest of the town. Therefore, I choose not to be associated with this any longer,” he said.

Worthley did not name the selectman he was referring to.

Referring to Cook, Pond and Spiller, Worthley said, “This town has been run by a three-member select board for the last two years, so why would I continue to waste my time?

Pond and Cook accepted the resignation with regret, but Elliott declined to accept it, although he agreed to take over as chairman.

Resident Raylene Tolman, who is Kingfield’s town clerk and deputy treasurer, said, “I’m sorry to see (Dick) leave.”

She said it was important for employees to feel secure in their jobs and asked what the town’s employee personnel policy was regarding harassment.

“Do you have anything (in the personnel policy) about harassment in the workplace?” she asked.

Elliott read that section, which prohibits harassment of town employees.

In other matters, selectmen voted to continue with Maine Municipal Association’s Health Insurance Trust for employees. The plan will cost the town $40 more per month for each of the four employees next year, or a total of $1,920 more.

Selectmen are reviewing employee salaries, benefits and health insurance costs, the latter of which cost $956,096 for four full-time employees this year. The premium is $191.40 per month per employee.

Selectmen discussed having employees pay for part of their health insurance premiums.

“You could go with an 80-20 split,” Cook suggested, meaning the town pays 80 percent and the employees 20 percent. “Another thing you could do is a 50-50 split.”

“I doubt you can find anybody that pays 100 percent of their employees’ cost of insurance,” Cook said.

Selectmen will make a decision before the end of the year.

Pond also asked selectmen to approve his suggestion to discontinue subcontracting the payroll service.

“I had more employees than there are in this town,” he said. “I did my own payroll.”

He suggested the town buy an additional TRIO software module and have the office staff trained to do payroll.

“We’re going to have to make that decision,” he said.

Tolman said she uses the program in Kingfield and finds it efficient.

The change will save the town about $2,000, but the new software will have an annual fee and costs for updates.

“I’m OK with doing it to save money,” Elliott said. “We approve saving money, but then we turn around and spend it immediately on something else.”

Town meeting moderator Sue Pratt swears in, from left, Strong Selectman Dick Worthley, Budget Committee members Clarence Nutting and Candy Clarke, and Selectman Rodney Cook on March 17. Worthley resigned as chairman of the board Tuesday, saying the board has “lost focus” on how to govern. (Valerie Tucker photo)


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