LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention Monday night unanimously rejected a collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters Local Union 633, which would have added $25,581 to the 2015 county budget.
The three-year contract with the county's newest union, which represents 21 mid-level managers, had been approved by the previous county commissioners as one of their last acts in office in late December.
The major objection raised by the current commissioners to the proposed contract was the lack of flexibility with regard to health insurance. The contract contained a provision which Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R- Alton), said ''does not allow a comparable health plan to be substituted'' as do contracts with other unions and would require insurance coverage from Health Trust, the county's current provider.
Taylor said that the proposed contract does put the county in a much better position to avoid having to pay the so-called Cadillac tax on high cost insurance policies of over $27,000 starting in 2018.
''I see some positives'' he said, noting that the cost of a family plan would be $4,000 lower under the contract, even with the county paying 100 percent of the costs, and that employees would also have to pay higher deductibles.
The contract would have provided a 1.4 percent cost of living increase as well as merit wage increases and increased tax and retirement costs. It eliminated the requirement that employees pay either 5 percent or 6.5 percent of the insurance policy premiums.
The new union was granted certification by the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board last February and was organized to represent mainly support staff employees, many of whom were not eligible for membership in the State Employees Association because they have supervisory responsibilities. The SEA has three bargaining units which represent employees in the Corrections Department, Sheriff's Department and Nursing Home.
The Teamsters Local 633 represents five members of the County Attorney's office, two Finance Department employees, two Register of Deeds employees, one maintenance worker, four members of the Sheriff's Department, three jail workers and three members of the Nursing Home Administration.
Rep. Russ Dumais (R-Gilford) said he was concerned over whether there was a commonality of interests in the makeup of the union and wondered how it had could have been certified by the PELRB.
Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) said it was not unprecedented, noting that he had faced a similar situation when he became Public Works Director for the city of Laconia and there were unions from one department dedicated to a certain set of employees while other unions were more of ''a hodgepodge.''
When Dumais persisted Tilton said ''It's not our job to get into the makeup of unions. For our purposes we have to look at the cost items and vote them up or down.''
Convention Vice Chairman Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) said that the $4,000 cost reduction might evaporate over time and said that from his standpoint it was important to have employees shoulder more of the premium costs ''so they have some skin in the game.''
Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) said that he was not convinced that their sufficient commonality of interest in the new union's membership but Tilton said that the makeup of the union ''is their business, not ours.''
Commissioner Taylor said that the county's last rebate from its current insurer, some $330,9000, will take place this year and that it would be advantageous to have the option of switching to a different insurer in future years.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy said that if the contract was defeated he was ready and willing to negotiate with the union in order to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont) moved to reject the contract and was supported by a unanimous vote of the convention.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 01:30
LACONIA — Repeated snowfall and cold temperatures led to a sharp increase in motor vehicle accidents in February. Police Chief Chris Adams said officers responded to 69 mishaps, many of which involved cars or trucks skidding on slippery roads.
Speaking to the Police Commission this week, Adams said that the redesign and reconstruction of the Walmart Supercenter on Lakeshore Road has begun increasing the number of property crimes in the city. Prior to the renovation and expansion of the store the front entrance was in Gilford, but now it is just over the line in Laconia. Consequently, suspected shoplifters are now apprehended in the city — not the town — and Laconia officer arrest the suspects, investigate the crimes and prosecute the offenders.
Adams also noted a near doubling in the the number of arrests for driving while intoxicated this year compared to last. So far 20 motorists have been charged compared to 12 at this time a year ago. Adams said that there are several officers whose training has lent them a sharp eye for impaired drivers, singling out Mike Armstrong, who he said seems to make arrests regularly. In 2007, there were 135 arrests for DWI, but by 2011 the number had fallen by almost half before rising to 110 in 2012 and 96 in 2013 then falling to 79 last year.
Last Updated on Saturday, 21 March 2015 01:09
LACONIA — "She is everywhere," said Alan Robichaud, who last year retired from the Granite United Way after a long career of community service, as he introduced Debby Frawley Drake, who received the Norm Marsh Leadership Award from the Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC) at its annual meeting at Lakes Region Community College last evening.
A retiring member of the Board of Directors, Drake has been a stalwart supporter and dedicated member of the organization for much of its 23 year history. Meanwhile, as Robichaud stressed, she always found time and energy to share her talents with the Holy Trinity School, Laconia Area Community Land Trust , Hands Across the Table, Laconia Historical and Museum Society and Lakes Region United Way while remaining engaged in virtual every aspect of civic life.
Robichaud called her "an incredible connector," who has marshaled people and resources to pursue any number of initiatives to better her community. At BEDC, he said, she has been a mainstay of the "200 by 2020 Initiative", the workforce development undertaken in partnership with the Granite United Way and Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
Accepting the award to a standing ovation, Drake said simply "I've enjoyed everything I've done to help BEDC" then drew a round of laughter by adding "just don't ask me to be on a committee."
The outgoing chairman of BEDC, Henry Lipman of LRGHealthcare announced that this year the organization intends to assume a "new role as a catalyst, partner, investor and/or owner in property development." What he described as "a new strategic initiative" would aim to transfer ownership of underused and distressed properties in order to put them to higher and better use. He acknowledged that it may be necessary to pay a premium in anticipation that once redeveloped under new ownership the value of the property will appreciate significantly.
Lipman said that the initiative would contribute to both the growth of the local economy and the expansion of the local property tax base.
Randy Eifert of the Cross Insurance Agency, the incoming chairman, said that BEDC will also undertake a public relations and marketing campaign designed to strengthen the presence of the organization in the region. In particular, he emphasized the importance of winning support among elected officials, enrolling more incorporators and attracting more investors/members.
Treasurer Sean Sullivan of Denoncourt, Waldron & Sullivan, reported that in 2014 the BEDC went from red to black, turning an operating loss of $7,600 into net income of $27,000 with income of $282,000 and expenses of $255,000. He said that BEDC added four loans to its portfolio earning additional interest income of $6,5000 and has total assets of $2.5 million.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 March 2015 12:41
CONCORD — A bill to establish a fund to provide restitution for those defrauded by Financial Resources Mortgage, Inc. (FRM) carried the New Hampshire Senate by a voice vote yesterday.
A similar bill introduced by then Senator Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) last year was referred to interim study by the Senate. Senator Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) introduced Senate Bill 155 in February.
The bill would designate 50-percent of the proceeds from penalties and fines collected by the Bureau of Securities Regulation in excess of its budgetary needs and 50-percent of the undesignated funds from settlements secured by the Department of Justice to the fund to make restitution to victims defrauded by the Meredith firm.
Scott Farah and Donald Dodge, the principals of FRM and its afiliate C L& M, Inc. were sentenced to prison for their part in defrauding more than 150 investors of some $23-million over nearly a decade before the firm imploded in 2009.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 March 2015 12:09
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