LACONIA — The City Council last night approved the collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the Laconia Police Officers Association by the Police Commission as Mayor Ed Engler cast the deciding vote when the councilors divided evenly for and against the contract.
With councilors Henry Lipman (Ward 3) and Ava Doyle (Ward 1) absent, councilors David Bownes (Ward 2) and Brenda Baer (Ward 4) voted to approve the contract while councilors Bob Hamel (Ward 5) and Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) dissented. Two weeks ago, after appearing preparing to approve the agreement, the council unanimously rejected it. Last night, before the vote, City Manager Scott Myers, when questioned by Bownes assured the councilors that three items in the agreement had been adjusted.
The compensation and benefits provided by the contract with the police mirrors those the City Council awarded to city employees who are not members of a union as well as those of contracts with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 534, which represents some 15 non-managerial employees at the Department of Public Works, and the Local Professional Firefighters, Local 1153 of the International Association of Firefighters already approved.
The agreements are for three years. Employees will receive cost of living adjustments of 2 percent, 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent in each year of the contract. Employees will no longer have a choice between two health care plans. The so-called "HMO High" plan, which has a $500 deductible and $10 office visit copay and requires a 15 percent premium contribution from employees, has been eliminated. The so-called "HMO Low" plan, with a $2,000 deductible and $20 copay, remains.
While employees have contributed 6 percent to the premium of the "HMO Low" plan, under the new contracts they contribute 8 percent the first year, 9 percent the second year and 10 percent the third year. The wages of employees will be supplemented by an annual payment of $250 in each of the next three years and the city will contribute $1,000 to the Health Reimbursement Account of each to be applied against their deductibles. Any unused funds may be carried forward to subsequent years.
The contracts also include language to forestall liability for the so-called "Cadillac Tax," a 40-percent federal levy on the value of health insurance benefits exceeding specific thresholds — $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family — imposed on January 1, 2018 by the Affordable Care Act. The city and the unions agreed that if new contracts are not agreed when the current contracts expire, steps must be taken to ensure that the cost of health insurance is below the thresholds. The contracts require the city and unions to either negotiate a health insurance plan or accept a plan reached through binding arbitration that makes the minimal changes to benefits required to keep the cost below the threshold.
Negotiations with the State Employees Association, Local 1984 of the Service Employees International Union, representing employees at the Department of Public Works, have reached impasse. Myers said that the city and the union are awaiting the report of a neutral fact finder, who will consider the differences between the two and make recommendations for resolving them.
Neil Smith of the SEA, who is negotiating on behalf of the employees, said that the differences turn on the amount and duration of the city's contribution to the Health Reimbursement Account. Stressing that he represents relatively lower wage employees, he said that the amount of the contribution is the same for all employees regardless of how much they earn, but the impact of the higher deductible weighs most heavily on those earning the least. Moreover, he said that contribution expires with the contract in three years with no assurance that the city would be willing to include it in a subsequent agreement.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 01:04
GILFORD — After months of discussion and negotiations with neighbors and various planning officials, the Planning Board approved last night an application for Arbo Ministries, Inc. to run a ministry from their Curtis Road home.
The conditions placed by the board include a provision that this permit, although issued to Arbo Ministries, Inc. is to be used by the corporation principals Barbara and Steve Arbo.
The Arbos can have overnight guests as long as it is not part of the ministry unless there are extraordinary circumstances like a snow storm or other event. Their attorney Pat Wood said they have no intention of running a guest house but occasionally they will have friends and family who will spend the night.
They agreed there will be no outdoor bells, camping, tents, or sound amplification and that any ministerial outdoor activities shall cease by 11 p.m.
The site plan limits the parking to 12 cars other than those in garages and the Arbos have said they plan on using the Curtis Road driveway as an entrance and the Route 11A driveway as an exit. Excluding family, the Arbos may have no more than 35 people on the property at any given time.
The ministry is not a church, said Planning Board member Norm Silber, who was initially of the opinion that the Arbos, by applying for a home-based business, were trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
He said his original thinking was that a church was something open to all however one of the stipulations of the Arbos' ministry is that only people who are invited can be on the property.
He said after the site visit last week, he was convinced that their plan was acceptable for the site.
Member Jerry Gagnon still had a few issues with exiting on to Route 11A and said that he would like it if they took one layer off from the brick wall in front of the home to help visibility.
Other members, including Chair John Morgenstern,said that wasn't necessary and Gagnon voted for the site plan approval without any changes to the brick wall.
The Arbos also agreed that they would maintain all of the natural buffers on the land and would not alter any of the structures on the land.
About seven people attended last night's meeting, down from a packed house when the Arbos first made their application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a special exception to operate a church.
Only one neighbor spoke and she said that she was very happy with the way the Arbos had reached out to the neighbors and was in favor of them having their ministry.
The site plan is contingent on Arbo Ministries satisfying all other local, state, and federal rules and regulations. Wood said last night that Arbo Ministries would be withdrawing their application to the ZBA for a special exception.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 12:51
Town selectmen were supportive of a request from the Belmont Old Home Day Committee for financial support in purchasing up to 18 risers from the Shaker Regional School District which can be used for setting up portable stages at Old Home Day and other community events.
The request came to selectmen at Monday's meeting from Gretta Olson-Wilder, a member of the Old Home Day committee who is also a member of the Shaker Regional School Board. She said that the risers had been rented from the school district for $250 at this year's Old Home Day to create a 16 foot by 20 foot stage area which worked out well. She said the school district is eager to sell the risers, which are carpeted, in order to free up space in the high school music department.
''They're very sturdy, very heavy and got praise from the band which used them at Old Home Day,'' said Olson-Wilder, who estimated that it might cost as much as $2,000 for the town to acquire them and that with a new pavilion in the downtown area they might be used as many as five or six times a year.
Ruth Mooney, chair of the board of selectmen, asked if they would be used only for town events and Olson-Wilder said yes and that people or organizations who used town facilities would have to rent similar equipment for those events. She said that the Old Home Day Committee was willing to put up some money toward the purchase and that funds would also be sought from community organizations.
She pointed out that it would save rental money for the town in the long run and that there was adequate space at several town facilities for storing the risers.
Mooney suggested that the town might be able to transfer funds within this year's budget to come up with 50 percent of the costs now and 50 percent next year.
Olson-Wilder said that given the town's interest she hopes to bring up the subject of the sale to the townvat tonight's Shaker Regional School Board meeting.
In other business:
— Selectmen will meet with Mike Izzard of the Lakes Region Planning Commission at 10 a.m. on Thursday, September 11 for a discussion of the Rte. 140 and Main Street intersection and the state Department of Transportation's 10-year plan.
— Selectmen will meet with Bonnette, Page and Stone contractors on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. for a discussion of options regarding the Belmont Mill reconstruction project.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 01:45
LACONIA — An Academy Street man was ordered held on $1,500 cash only bail for allegedly hitting a man repeatedly with his own cane during an argument.
Police said Carroll Akerman, 44, had been drinking with the alleged victim when the two apparently got into a fight around 8 p.m. on Thursday on High Street.
The victim's brother called police when he looked out his window and allegedly saw Akerman preparing to strike the victim. He was able to get the cane away from Akerman.
When police arrived, the victim was covered in blood and had a number of severe lacerations to his face and large welts on his back, according to affidavits obtained from the witnesses. Police also found a pair of sneakers with blood on them they believe belong to Akerman. The victim said Akerman also kicked him.
Police found Akerman, who they said appeared intoxicated, and had difficulty standing.
When they tried to talk to him, he said he wanted a lawyer.
Corrections officers found a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana when they searched Akerman's jacket.
He is charged with one count of second-degree assault, one count of first-degree assault and one count of possession of marijuana.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 01:32
- Belmont man Tasered, charged with disorderly conduct & resisting arrest
- Selig named Taylor Community president & CEO
- Accused flasher sent to prison for probation violation
- WEEKEND - Laconia Multicultural Festival Celebrates 13th Year
- Laconia man charged with setting wife’s house on fire
- La. man drowns in Squam Lake