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City manager puts forward wage & benefits plan for non-union employees

LACONIA — While contracts negotiations with the four unions representing city employees are still ongoing, City Manager Scott Myers has recommended adjusting the compensation and benefits of non-union employees.

Generally the package of compensation and benefits provided to non-union employees matches that offered to their union counterparts in the collective bargaining process.

Myers recommends granting three successive annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) as of July 1 of 2-percent in 2014, 2.25-percent in 2015 and 2.5-percent in 2016.

Myers proposes to change the health insurance plans by eliminating the so-called HMO "high" plan at the end of the current fiscal year. Employees enrolled in the HMO 'low" plan, who currently contribute 9 percent of the total premium, will contribute 8 percent beginning on July 1 2014, 8 percent on July 1, 2015 and  10 percent on July 1, 2015. The wages of each employee enrolled in the HMO "low" plan will be supplemented by an annual payment of $250 in each of the next three years.

Furthermore, for the next three years, beginning on July 1, 2014, the city will contribute $1,000 to the Health Reimbursement Account of each employee enrolled in the HMO "low" plan to be applied against the deductible. Any unused funds may be carried forward to subsequent years.

The City Charter stipulates that unless the recommended changes to the Classification and Compensation Plan are vetoes by the City Council, they take effect within 30 days. Nevertheless, Myers said he will ask the council for an affirmative vote on the recommendations when it meets on Tuesday, May 27.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:14

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Three men indicted in both Bristol and Northfield robberies - 267

BRISTOL — A Grafton County grand jury has indicted three men for conspiracy to commit robbery for allegedly entering a Summer Street home during the evening of February 24, 2014.

Chance Griffin, 20, formerly of Winchester, Jeremy Jewell, 18, formerly of Baldwin Street in Laconia, and Edward Esty, 19, formerly of Northfield allegedly drove to the home equipped with masks, bandanas, and a pellet gun with the intent of robbing the man who lived there.

Lt. Kris Bean of the Bristol Police said the three were interrupted once by two other men and reported that one of the three pointed the pellet gun at them. He said they apparently made three additional attempts at entering the home but fed after being spotted by a man taking out his garbage.

Police recovered the pellet gun in a nearly snow bank.

The three were also indicted by a Merrimack County grand jury for their roles in the armed robbery of a Northfield man who was walking to work on Granite Street when they allegedly robbed him.

Griffin was indicted for armed robbery while Jewell and Esty were both indicted for one count each of armed robbery, criminal threatening, conspiracy to commit robbery, and reckless conduct.

The Northfield victim was not injured but reported to police that the three were in a sports car and allegedly stopped when they saw him. He reported that one of them put a gun to his head and demanded he empty his pockets.

Esty and Griffin are being held in the Grafton County Department of Corrections on high cash bail while Jewell is being held in a different county jail.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 02:17

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Plymouth contracts out management of water & sewer district

by Thomas P. Caldwell.

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District has chosen Utility Partners, the national company that has provided utility management services to the Town of Ashland since 2010, to operate the town's wastewater treatment facility on an interim basis.
Unlike Ashland, where the company hires the staff to operate the town's wastewater treatment facility and sewer collection system eight hours a day, five days a week, Plymouth will be contracting with Utility Partners to send a manager to oversee the village district crew one day a week, but he will be available by phone at other times. Initially, the manager will spend five days getting to know the system and the workers before switching to the one-day-per-week schedule.
The three-month contract at $85 per hour will satisfy the N.H. Department of Environmental Services' requirements for plant operation. Plymouth has not been in technical compliance since the resignation of the wastewater superintendent, followed two weeks later by that of the district administrator, earlier this spring.
According to Commission Chair Judith D'Aleo, the DES requires that operators match the grade of the treatment facility. In Plymouth's case, it is a Grade 3 plant, requiring a Grade 3 operator. The current staff members have Grade 1 and Grade 2 certifications. Utility Partners will provide the appropriately credentialed supervisor to satisfy the state and help the district determine its long-term strategy.
Merelise O'Connor, the interim district administrator, noted that Utility Partners also provides bulk purchasing advantages that could further reduce costs.
The initial, three-month contract may be extended if it works out well; and there is an option of hiring the company full-time, as Ashland does, in which case Utility Partners could hire those already working at the plant. The commissioners noted that hiring the company is less expensive than what the village district has been doing.
D'Aleo said after the meeting that exploring the options was not a direct result of the resignations. "We're always looking at staffing issues and trying to be more efficient," she said.
Also at the May 20 meeting, the commission agreed to appropriate $25,000 to continue funding O'Connor's position through Municipal Resources, Inc.
Citing new work responsibilities, Commissioner Steve Kahl said he would have to reluctantly resign from the board, but he agreed to continue through June 6 and said he would "keep my nose in the process" as the district moves ahead with its search for a new groundwater source. Kahl has served on the commission since 2009.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 01:25

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Commercial building boom in Belmont

BELMONT — Commercial building permits are on the rise, according to Town Planner Candace Daigle, bringing some positive economic news to this southern Belknap County community.

Daigle said she has had six separate site plan review requests including two from Winnisquam Marine. One is a request for a new building on the corner of Sunset Drive, where Sarge's Store used to be, and a second one — still in the development phase — is for the renovation of the former Winnisquam Fire Station into a show room.

"It's exciting if not daunting to be a part of this," she said.

She said Winnipesaukee Truck is planning a new building on Rte. 106, across from First Student Bus Company and Pensco Company, which owns the building that houses The Vault and Church Street Laundry, is working on a new application for an another 4,000-square-foot commercial building on its Church Street site.

She said owner Scott Williams told her that the newly renovated Belmont Village looks so nice that he would like to have a second commercial building in the area.

Daigle said developer A.E. Mitchell has started construction on an expansion of Belmont Self Storage on Rte. 106 at Eastgate Park and is readying to begin building a self-serve car wash and an office building on Prescott Hill also on Rte. 106.

She said there is also a change of tenant application coming forward for the former Pasta Patio restaurant building on Rte. 3 and the restaurant will reopen as Mama Mia's.

Daigle also said the department is flooded with residential building permits. She said the long winter delayed many of the construction projects that would have typically started in March and April.

She said most of the residential permits are for home improvement projects and not new housing.

"People are putting their money into their existing homes," she said. "It's a trend we've seen in the past few years."

Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 01:16

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