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Joyce Endee

Tuftonboro reduces 2013 health care costs by $40,000

Town receives payment from Sovereign Bank for ZaDeDa lots

CHILDREN gathered around the Tuftonboro Free Library’s outdoor Christmas tree on Friday evening, Nov. 30, for the second annual tree lighting ceremony. Community members sang Christmas carols in the parking lot and afterwards warmed up inside with refreshments and good company. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
December 06, 2012
TUFTONBORO — The Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen voted to stay with the Local Government Center's Mathew Thornton Health Care plan with modifications following input from town employees.

With the cost of insurance up 10 percent, contributions by employees will increase, with the deductible changing from $250 or $500 (single/family plans) to a $1,000 or $3,000 (single/family plans). However, the town will pick up 25 percent of employees' out of pocket expenses and offer flexible spending accounts.

Employees will be able to place as much as 25 percent of their deductible limit into a personal flexible spending account from their earnings, for a tax savings. Medical and dependent care expenses qualify. Funds not used by the end of the year are lost to the employee.

The decision will result in an estimated $40,000 savings for the town.

The board made a decision at its Dec. 4 meeting, upon recommendation from Fire Chief Adam Thompson, to continue with the current ambulance coverage shared by Care Plus and Stewart's Ambulance services. The overall cost will go up from last year's $122,500 contract to $190,000, but looking over the three bids received, Chief Thompson determined a subsequent joint contract to be the most cost effective as well as the most efficient means of coverage.

Thompson said the arrangement includes nighttime coverage between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. by Care Plus, whose staff includes three local firefighters, and daytime coverage from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with Stewart's Ambulance Service. The contract assures that an ambulance will be located during the night in Center Tuftonboro at Winners Circle Farm.

"People are working well together," said Thompson in reference to the existing arrangement that was initiated by Care Plus last year in the third year of its three-year contract, when the company realized reimbursement reductions in Medicaid and Medicare payments, more uninsured clients who were unable to pay their bills for service and insurance company reductions made 24 hour service untenable.

A request submitted by Chairman of the Recreation Commission Mary Ann Murray for $35,000 to replace the town-owned playground equipment at Tuftonboro Central School in 2013 was soundly rejected by the board and by members of the audience, many of whom are members of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) committee.

The CIP has the replacement marked for 2018. Wayne Black, who serves on the committee as a representative from the Budget Committee, said that he works as a playground supervisor at the school one day a week and has not observed any safety issues. He said that he has videotaped activity on the playground for anyone to see.

In his opinion, apparently shared by Primex Insurance, whose inspection and subsequent report to the board were reviewed by the board, some of the equipment shows wear and tear, but not to the extent that it needs to be replaced next year. " I think the biggest issue is the three-section tunnel," said Black, who continued, "I don't know what the sudden motivation is to replace [the equipment] this year. There's a lot of life left in the playground."

Selectman Carolyn Sundquist said that she thought funds earned from the Recreation Commission were earmarked for playground improvements.

On other financial matters, the board announced that it would not advance a $150,000 principal payment for the fire safety building under construction as previously planned, deferring instead to a suggestion from CIP committee member John Simms at the Nov. 6 meeting that the board make its first payment when it comes due. Following the established schedule defers payment to residents who will be benefiting from the facility when it is complete and into the future rather than offering tax dollars in advance.

The board announced that it has received a check for $133,856 from Sovereign Bank for the purchase of the town-owned ZaDeDa lots. The payment that includes penalties and fees. The money will go into the undesignated fund balance.

A hearing on the 10-year Time Warner cable contract is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 10, at 9 a.m., the start of the regularly scheduled meeting. "We have no control over the stations or the cost," said Sundquist ruefully to members of the public in attendance when the subject was raised, "but it's no use haggling over it anymore."

Bob Theve asked what would happen if the company goes bankrupt in light of declining numbers of cable users. He was told that the contract is not exclusive. Other companies can come in at any time, and if it were to go into bankruptcy during the remaining eight years of the contract, another company would be assigned to offer service.

The next meeting of the Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen will be on Monday, Dec. 10, at 9 a.m. at the town offices.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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