Michael Pratt speaks in support of raising pay for the Select Board at the Weld Town Meeting Saturday, March 5. Raises were approved for all other town employees as voters gave the board a substantial raise at last year’s meeting. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

WELD — Voters at annual Town Meeting Saturday, March 5, changed the road commissioner position from elected to appointed. They also amended budget articles to add $7,516 for additional health insurance coverage for the next commissioner and Town Clerk Carol Cochran.

The road commissioner definitely needs to be appointed to get someone, resident Michael Graham said. In the past the road commissioner went off on their own, couldn’t be reined in, said the Select Board wasn’t their boss as they were elected, he noted.

During the voice count, only a few voters were opposed to the change.

While considering the rates of pay for town employees prior to that vote, resident Larry Fish suggested articles regarding the road commissioner and possibly providing health insurance for that position should be decided first. With no support for that, debate on pay continued.

Increasing the hourly wage by $1 was proposed for many town employees, but for the road commissioner the increase was up to $22 per hour, a $3 increase.

“The Budget Committee felt that with inflation it was reasonable to increase wages across the board, could do that without impacting the mil rate,” Select Board Chair Richard Doughty said. All positions increased about 5% with the exception of the road commissioner, he noted. The town has had difficulty filling that position — may not be paying enough, the person who stepped forward this year asked for an increase next year, he said.


“If we don’t find a fully qualified person we could offer less as they become fully qualified,” Doughty stated. Increasing wages, offering health insurance — that might not be needed — might make it better for people to consider the position, he added.

The board struggled with this, Selectperson Dina Walker said. While unfair to other employees, the town would be in dire straights if it couldn’t find a road commissioner, needs a road commissioner, she noted.

“You are not going to pull someone from out of town to fill this position,” resident Christopher Smith said. “When you have to wake up at 1 a.m. to plow roads, the requirement to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), $22 per hour is not enough.”

“I personally don’t think $22 is enough, it’s a step in the right direction,” Selectperson Brian Haynes said. “Anyone with a CDL has to be in the random testing drug pool, it’s a legal requirement to keep the CDL.” Supervisors for the Maine Department of Transportation make quite a bit more than $22 per hour, he noted.

Pay for the select board is woefully inadequate, resident Michael Pratt said. “They ought to be in the mix.”

“Prior to last year the select board was paid an hourly wage,” Doughty said. “Last year it was changed to a stipend, the assembly doubled the amount recommended. The board felt that was very generous, the current members aren’t looking for more compensation.”


Other positions deserve more at this time, Walker said.

Look at their responsibilities, Pratt said. “The interaction of one board member, her expertise (as an attorney), the town would be paying $150 to $200 an hour for that,” he noted.

“These selectmen are doing a service to the town,” Graham said. The town couldn’t afford to hire them for what they’re worth, he noted.

The rates of pay were approved as recommended.

Also voted in was allowing the Selectpersons to offer a health insurance package to the road commissioner. It includes life insurance and vision coverage.

“Our intention was to keep it similar to the town clerk, pay half,” Haines said. The commissioner may not elect to take it, if so, the monthly amount would go into general surplus, he noted.


Under general government, $1,000 was added to provide 100% coverage of health insurance for Town Clerk Carol Cochran. For public works, $6,516 was added for 50% coverage for the road commissioner.

Voters also approved using American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide hazard pay for employees who worked during the pandemic, lost revenue because of COVID-19, and a generator for the town office/post office building.

The town has received half of the $44,041.80, Walker said.

When resident Laureen “Laurie” Pratt asked if only half of the money has been received could the full amount be accepted, she was told yes.

“The town employees need to be paid for working through the pandemic,” she said. “The generator is a must need.”

Premium or hazard pay is additional pay for hours worked during the pandemic, recognition of the hardships employees put in, Doughty said. There is a formula to determine lost revenue, about $15,000 will be going back in the town coffers, he noted. It’s about $15,000 for the generator, Doughty added.


The approved budget of $640,518 is $20,556 or 3.11% less than last year.

An update on work by the new Weld Advisory Committee was shared.

Moderator and resident Tom Skolfield said the committee was created as a result of the “cellphone tower turmoil.” Walker has been working closely with the committee, he noted.

The Planning Board ultimately approved AT&T’s tower application after months of debate and rulings by the Board of Appeals.

The committee has held two joint working sessions with selectpersons, will continue working after town meeting, Walker said. Information will be posted on the town’s website, she noted.

“The goal is to make sure we hear your ideas, connections,” committee member Sara Shifrin said. “Our job is to reflect the value of the community.” There were 221 responses to the survey sent out last fall, she noted.

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