Commissioners express frustration that lawmakers haven't acted on union deal

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners expressed frustration yesterday that a date has not yet been set by the Belknap County Convention for a vote on the one-year collective bargaining agreement they ratified two weeks ago with the State Employees Association (SEA) on behalf of 80 full-time employees of the Belknap County Nursing Home.
When Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett said at yesterday's meeting at the Belknap County Complex that she had already made a verbal request of convention Chairwoman Collette Worsman for such a meeting and that Worsman had said she wanted to wait until there was an updated report on the budget, Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) said ''that has nothing to do with the contract'' and charged that she was trying to keep the commissioners from governing.
Shackett said that she has since submitted a formal written request to the convention that it meet to act on the contract and noted that the applicable state law says that ''upon written request of the commissioners, the convention shall schedule a meeting to act upon the request.''
The costs of the contract total $336,170 and include $267,343 more for health insurance, $22,361 for a cost of living adjustment of 1.6-percent, $35,759 for merit increases for eligible employees and $10,705 for associated payroll costs, for a total of $336,170.
The 2014 county budget adopted by the Belknap County Convention level-funded the employer share of health insurance benefits at $1,272,449 but included nothing for wage increases or associated payroll costs. Funding will still have to be approved by the Belknap County Convention in the form of a supplemental appropriation.
The agreement provides for the employees' share of health insurance premiums to increase from 6.5 percent to 16.5-] percent for a single person plan, from 5-percent to 15-] percent for both a two-person and a family plan. However, the contribution would remain unchanged for employees who participate in three health management programs that include the health assessment, biometric screening and on health awareness program as defined by HealthTrust.
Commissioners agreed to a request from the employee union that workers be allowed to use the four parking spaces allocated to county officials at the entryway to the county complex on the date the convention meets to vote on the collective bargaining agreement. Shackett said the workers intend to carry signs urging support for the recently negotiated contract.
The commissioners agreed to park their vehicles in a different location on the day of the vote.
The commissioners also heard that there has been a delay in receiving a Community Development Block Grant for the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region due to a request for a historic inventory of the former Saint James Episcopal Church building which the club is acquiring.