Fire Department, Public Works employees could also see a pay bump
By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — The selectmen's proposed 2017 town budget included a 6 to 12 percent across-the-board increase for the town's union police officers after a study showed they are among the lowest-paid police officers in the area.
Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin told the Budget Committee in her presentation of the proposed budget that the town negotiated the 10-step pay plan modeled after the one in the Gilford Police Department as part of their recent three-year contract.
She said the two non-union sergeants had some upward adjustments made to their pay plans and the balance of the non-union employees in the department will get a 1.5 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) raise plus a 2 percent pay increase, which is the same increase all non-union town employees will get if the budget passes as proposed.
The town also negotiated a 1.5 percent COLA increase and a one-step increase for the Fire Department union employees and a 5 percent increase with no COLA for the unionized Public Works Department employees.
All union contracts have eliminated Blue Choice as an option for health insurance except for those employees who are already enrolled. Beaudin said should an employee change his or her status, for example get married, then the Blue Choice is no longer available.
Other significant changes in the proposed 2017 budget include a 10.9 percent increase in the cost of health insurance, and the removal of the Building and Grounds Division from the Public Works Department line items to the General Administration line items, although the overall budget amount for the division remains consistent with 2016.
Other cost increase drivers for the 2017 budget are the increased contributions of the towns to the state retirement system that included a 3.05 percent increase for police officers and a 2.73 percent increase for firefighters/EMTs. The increase for all other town employees is 0.17 percent. The 0.17 percent doesn't include teachers, who are employed by the school district and not the town.
Overall, the proposed amount to be raised by taxes, excluding warrant articles, is $9,796,465 which is up 1.04 percent from this year's local budget of $9,758,540.
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