SANDOWN – Town employees could be getting up to 2 percent raises in their 2014 paychecks, according to a decision made at the selectmen’s Aug. 12 meeting. With budget season just around the corner, the selectmen decided to get out of the way a decision on pay raises. In the past the board has made the decision later in the year, but this forces departments, the selectmen and the budget committee to recalculate budget proposals, as they had been created before a solid decision on salary changes.
Selectman Brenda Copp led the discussion, saying that every day she sees how valuable Sandown’s employees are. Copp spoke to employees’ dedication and how lucky the town was to have them. That being said, she added, she also needed to be cognizant of taxpayers, and this led her to believe that a 2 percent increase was reasonable.
“Because our people do a phenomenal job,” said Copp, who has long been watchful of budget increases.
Copp went on to explain that the raises could cost a few thousand dollars, but in the scope of a $3 million-plus budget, it wasn’t unreasonable. It’s a way to say thank you for the work, said Copp, while simultaneously keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Selectmen Hans Nicolaisen and Terry Treanor said they completely agreed with Copp’s assessment.
While chair Tom Tombarello agreed with the assessment of the employees, he also pointed out that some county employees hadn’t seen raises for years. Tombarello is also a Rockingham county commissioner.
While Tombarello said he’d be more comfortable deciding on raises after any potential changes to health insurance premiums were figured, Copp argued that the two were separate issues.
Ultimately the board unanimously chose to give up to 2 percent raises, depending on performance reviews. While it was floated that they give a flat 2 percent, Nicolaisen said that would be unfair to those employees going above and beyond.
In other business at Monday night’s meeting:
• The board has agreed to replace the well pump at the Train Depot Historical Museum. The pump failed Aug. 8 when a member of the historical society was watering the lawn.
Local company Faxon’s Artesian Wells and Pumps was called and determined that it’s likely the pump is blown. An estimate for replacement of $1,427 was given. The board approved up to $1,700 for the replacement in the event the pump was deeper than the 250 feet the estimate assumed.
The board also decided to close the building on Nov. 1. It was previously agreed that the depot should be closed during the winter to avoid high heating costs.
• The town’s assessing contract will be sent out to bid. While board members agreed that they were pleased with current contractor Municipal Resources Incorporated (MRI), they said it was wise to stick to town policy, send the work to bid and hopefully get a better price next year.