Livermore employees offer extended employee health insurance

LIVERMORE — Selectpersons approved offering eligible town employees partial health insurance coverage for their spouses and children, a benefit designed to help retain and attract workers.

The city pays 100% of the employees’ health insurance, but has never covered their families. On Tuesday, the board approved paying 35 percent of the cost of family coverage.

The cost will be about $11,000 per person per year, Chairman Marc Chretien said.

Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller will look into whether a special town meeting is needed to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act from the town’s allotment to cover the first year of expanded health insurance.

Regarding one vacancy, Chretien said, “We’re having a hard time finding experienced people for the highway department.”

“A number of people would apply, but without health insurance they just wouldn’t be able to,” said Selectperson Scott Richmond.

“If you don’t offer (family health insurance), if you get someone with no (snow plowing) experience, you’re going to put the money in the truck,” Chretien said. “You’re going to pay one way or another.”

Asked about hiring a contractor to plow, Richmond said three cities have done so and then created their own departments because of unreliable service.

“You’re already established,” Miller said. You won’t get cold patching, digging or logging with contracting, he added.

“We have 41 miles of road alone, 48 with the Crash Road and Route 108,” Chretien said. “We have to do something to be competitive.”

Selectpersons agreed to advertise the highway department position using a range of $18 to $21 an hour, based on experience. The new health insurance option will also be included.

Also at the meeting, the board set the property tax rate at $16 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the same as last year.

Referring to a conversation with appraiser Paul Binet of John E. O’Donnell & Associates of New Gloucester, Miller said, “In talking to Paul, your costs are down, your revenue sharing is up. You’re seeing an increase in personal ownership, so it looks promising.”

Selectperson Scott Richmond moved to keep the rate at $16. The amount available for tax relief will be $153,252.78.

Last year, $50,000 was taken from the undesignated fund balance to reduce the tax increase, Richmond said, noting there are no plans to take money from the account this year.

Unspent money is returned to the non-targeted fund balance.

On the other hand, members of the Brettuns Pond Association are interested in helping to clean up the beach and would like a shed to store provisions. Maine Central Power is expected to install lighting that will allow better camera coverage of the area. A copy of the Turner Beach Ordinance was shared as a possible template for Livermore.

Audrey Lovering of Lovering and Associates attended the meeting to discuss the economic development proposal she presented. It highlights the Route 4/Route 108 corridor. She said there’s always room for a few small restaurants, more medical and more technology facilities.

“It’s a beautiful place to telecommute,” she said. “A lot of industry is looking to move to Maine.” Livermore could be the first stop for tourism with businesses like sports, fishing, cycling, she noted.

Knowing what people want their city to be is an important first step, selectmen agreed.

Creating a business corridor strategy is a multi-phase, multi-step process. Completion time depends on what data and background information the city has, but could take 140 hours or more. The company charges $85 per hour.

Selectperson Brett Deyling will create a survey to send with tax bills. Responses can be completed online, via Survey Monkey or sent to the town office.

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