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Police Commission leads with wage & benefit package for non-union workers

LACONIA — The Police Commission unanimously approved changes to health insurance plans, raises and bereavement benefits for non-union employees on Thursday even though negotiations with a union representing rank and file officers are ongoing. Typically, non-union employees are offered raises and benefit packages that closely mirror what fellow employees earned through collective bargaining.

Commission Chair Warren Clement said yesterday that negotiation between the patrol officers' union and the Commission are "amicable" and he is confident that they will come to an agreement. The existing contract expires on June 30.

When asked if the terms voted on Thursday for non-union employee are consistent with those that the commission is willing to agree to with the union, he said they were.

Beginning on July 1, each non-union employee will get a 2-percent cost-of-living raise; on July 1, 2015 each non-union employee will get a 2.25-percent cost-of-living raise; and on July 1, 2016, each non-union employee will get another 2.5-percent cost-of-living raise.

As compensation for the elimination of an HMO "high", or more comprehensive health insurance plan, non-union employees were given some additional money, including a $250 annual stipend over the next three years, to compensate for the higher out-of-pocket cost to each employee.

Beginning July 1, in years 2014 through 2016, the city will contribute $1,000 to Health Reimbursement Accounts for each non-union employee to help offset the deductible associated with a new higher-deductible health insurance plan available.

If the money is not used during the year the employee can carry it over to ensuing years but it is not distributable as cash when the employee leaves.

Beginning on July 1, 2015, each employee will contribute 8 percent of the annual premium for health insurance coverage. That percentage will rise to 9 and 10 percent beginning on July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017 respectively.

Employees who can show they are health insured through an outside policy will get 50 percent of $4,040 beginning on July 1, 2014, which is up from 50 percent of $3,300.

Lt. Alfred Lessard presented the proposal to the commission. He said yesterday that health insurance deductibles will increase significantly, for family plans going from a maximum of $2,000 per family to $6,000 per family or $2,000 per person.

Lessard said the new plan for non-union employees is consistent with the plan offered to other non-union city employees.

He said the recommendation for the new plan came from City Manager Scott Myers, who indicated this was what was affordable under the property tax cap and will save the department and taxpayers money.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 05:57

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Management plan being prepared to control milfoil on Paugus Bay

LACONIA — After mapping the presence of milfoil around the shores and islands of Paugus Bay, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) estimates that it will cost $83,000 for several years to bring the infestation under control.

The agency is preparing a management plan, which will include applying a chemical herbicide to some 110 acres, most of them along the western shoreline from the Weirs Channel to the Lakeport Dam and in the vicinity of Christmas Island on the eastern shoreline, as well as deploying divers to remove plants by hand. However, as yet no treatment has been funded or scheduled.

Typically DES funds 40-percent of the cost of treating colonies of milfoil with the balance divided evenly between municipalities and private parties, most commonly associations of property owners.

City Manager Scott Myers told the City Council this week that he has recommended appropriating $20,000 for milfoil treatment in the 2014-2015 budget, almost three times more than last year, and another $15,000 has been carried forward from past years.

Suzanne Perley of the Lake Opechee Preservation Association said that $25,000 will be spent in the spring and summer treating some 30 acres of milfoil in the lake, primarily on the eastern shore below the Lakeport Dam, Opechee Cove and the northernmost reach of the lake near Anthony Drive. She said that DES is expected to contribute $10,000, the city $7,500 and the residents $7,500.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2014 01:39

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Belmont investigates record number of felonies for 1 week

BELMONT — Police said yesterday they are on track to break a record regarding the number of alleged felonies they have responded to in one week.

According to Lt. Richard Mann, on May 12, an adult woman came to the department with visible injuries caused by an alleged assault by Daniel Elliot, 26, of Concord Street who she said tried to strangle her with a metal broom handle.

Elliot was charged with second-degree assault and was able to post $5,000 cash bail and was released with a number of bail conditions.

Also on May 12, police were able to charge Katherine Urquhart, 29, of Pine Street in Laconia with one count of felony theft by unauthorized taking in connection to a burglary on Laconia Road that had been reported on May 6.

Police said a portion of $30,000 of stolen jewelry was traced to a local pawn shop.

Urquhart is scheduled to appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on June 17.

On Wednesday, Mark Royea, 29, of Linda Drive was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated and endangering the welfare of an 8-year-old child who was a passenger in his car. A passenger in the car was placed into protective custody.

Also on Wednesday, police responded to 19 Church St. and found Justice Welcome, 18 allegedly threatening his mother with a baseball bat.

Welcome is charged with two count of simple assault and resisting arrest. The arresting officer zapped Welcome with a Taser after Welcome allegedly hit him during the arrest.

He was also charged with one count of felony criminal threatening.

Belmont Police are also investigating an alleged sexual assault and a burglary on David Drive. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Belmont Police at 267-8351.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2014 01:35

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Beer tent decision doesn't sit well with all at Weirs Beach

LACONIA — This week's decision by the City Council to allow the operators of beer tents to begin serving two days before the opening of Motorcycle Week on June 14 has not set well with at least two owners of watering holes at The Weirs.

Brett Loring of the Paradise Beach Club said that he only learned of the decision from a report in yesterday's newspaper. He said that the challenge of running a business at The Weirs, where the warm months account for such a large volume of sales, is stiff enough without the additional competition from itinerant enterprises that cater to Motorcycle Week then leave. He conceded that beer tents have become fixtures during the rally, when the crowds are large, but said to allow them to operate beyond the bounds of the event, was not fair to local businesses.

"Before Bike Week it's pretty slim pickings," Loring said. "It picks up as the vendors arrive and the bikers begin trickling in before the first weekend." He questioned why the council saw fit to allow the beer tents to take a share of that business. "To serve beer, wine and liquor we have to run a restaurant and we pay property taxes," he said. "There's no full service in the beer tents. They don't even have to sell hot dogs." He said that the impact would not only fall on local businesses but also on their employees, who live and work in the community.

"I'm with Brett," said Tommy Mack, who owns Weirs the Beef, as he grilled a hamburger. "We have to have a full liquor license and pay property taxes." He said that the beer tents should not be allowed to open before the start of Motorcycle Week. "It's bad for the local businesses," he said.

Not all agreed. Chris Clark of the Crazy Gringo said she was somewhat surprised by the decision, but doubted it would have a significant impact on local businesses. "I just don't expect they'll be that busy," she said.

The council acted in response to Bill "The Boss" Niland, who owns the Chop Shop Pub in Seabrook and operates the beer garden at the Weirs Beach Drive-In during the rally, who claimed the timing of this year's rally would cause confusion. Every year, Motorcycle Week begins on the second full weekend in June, which most often means that it ends on the third Sunday of June — Father's Day. However, in those years like this one, when June begins on a Sunday, the rally begins rather than ends on Father's Day weekend.

However, Niland assumed that because this year's rally begins rather than ends on Father's Day, the dates of the rally had been changed. He wrote to the council recalling that when the rally last began on Father's Day weekend, in 2008, rally-goers booked rooms for the wrong week and, he claimed, have not returned. "Should this happen again this year," he warned, "I am in fear that it would be another nail in the coffin to an already declining event."

To address the problem, Niland suggested opening the Beer Garden, with entertainment, on Thursday and Friday, before the rally begins on Saturday, June 14. "This would at least those who attend on the wrong week a small taste of Bike Week events so that their vacation not be a total loss," he explained.

In a memorandum to the council, Planning Director Shanna Saunders, who chairs the Motorcycle Technical Review Committee/Special Events Review Committee, wrote "as we know from a few years ago when this happened, the change confuses the tourists that come up," adding the police found crowds on the first weekend were larger than on the last. She told the council that the committee approved Niland's request and recommended allowing the operators of beer tents at the Lobster Pound, Looney Bin, Broken Spoke and Marketplace to apply for special events permits to open on Thursday, June 12 and Friday, June 13.

However, Tom Pucci of the Grand View Motel & Cottages and former president of the Weirs Action Committee, said he could not recall significant numbers of rally-goers either booking rooms or arriving at The Weirs expecting Motorcycle Week only to discover they were a week or days early. He said that innkeepers routinely advise prospective guests of the dates of the rally, whether they want to attend it or avoid it. Moreover, he noted that patrons are also informed of the higher rates charged during the rally.

"It hasn't happened," he said flatly.

Nor could Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, which closely monitors bookings at hotels, motels and cottages before and during the rally, recall a situation like Niland described.

Loring said that he hopes the council will reconsider its decision. "When we want to go right, the city says go left and if we want to go up, the city says go down," he remarked, "but they do what this guy wants right away without even notifying local businesses."

Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2014 01:27

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