Budget talks center on salaries and insurance NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

April 15, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Some Manchester town employees soon will be paying $67 a week out-of-pocket for family health insurance, said Steven Miller, the town's water and sewer superintendent, at a Town Council budget work session Tuesday night.

"We can't afford it any more," Mr. Miller said. "We've got to do something, or we're going to lose these people."

Salaries of the town's employees, among the lowest in the area, were a point of contention during the work session.

The Town Council whittled away at the draft budget until 11 p.m., but several key issues remained unsettled.

Before the council can set next year's property tax rate, or water and sewer rates, it must set employees' salaries, determine how much money is left from last year, and make final capital spending plans for water and sewer systems.

The public hearing on the budget was rescheduled for May 11, following the regular council meeting. The budget will not be final until that date, at the earliest.

The next budget work session is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 28.

When the subject of salaries was brought up Tuesday night, Councilman Geoffrey Black suggested a plan that would give all employees a 3 percent raise, with larger raises for employees earning less than the average salary paid by area towns for that position.

Councilman Gerald Bollinger said he thought the town had already done enough, by increasing employees' vacation packages.

But Mayor Earl A.J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. said, "We have some positions that have got to be adjusted, Gerry, or we're going to lose more people. It's just that simple."

Last month, Manchester Clerk/Treasurer Paul Kolar resigned to take a job in York, Pa.

Mr. Miller said, "The one thing that scares me more than anything is insurance."

He said he has worked for Manchester for 14 years.

"Over the last 14 years I've had a lot of job offers," he said. "I should have taken them."

Mr. Bollinger said the town should make sure its employees aren't losing money because of premium increases for insurance.

The council asked Town Manager Terry Short to work out how much it would cost for the town to pay its employees enough to cover their rising health insurance costs.

Also Tuesday, the council tentatively decided not to put landfill tipping fees on residents' utility bills. Under the current budget draft, tipping fees will continue to be paid out of property tax revenue.

The council cut more than $70,000 from the proposed budget Tuesday. Items tentatively cut include:

* $14,000 for capital spending on parks. The town will try to replace the money with grant money from Project Open Space.

* $21,000 in capital outlay for roads. The amount represents half the price of a backhoe, which will be paid for with water capital funds instead.

* $34,139 in salary and benefits for employees.

* $1,000 for office equipment.

* $1,000 for zoning office operating expenses.

* $500 in election expenses.

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