, Newburyport, MA

August 19, 2013

Payroll policy to be strictly enforced in West Newbury


---- — WEST NEWBURY — If you want to get paid, you’re going to have to follow proper payroll policies. That’s the message selectmen want to get through to the town’s employees.

Frustrated by inconsistencies in who is signing off on the biweekly payroll warrants, the board agreed on Monday that starting next pay period, it will begin more strictly enforcing the town’s payroll policy.

State municipal wage law requires, at a minimum, that all department heads sign off on the documents before the employee is paid, but the town policy is a bit more stringent, requiring employees to endorse the payroll sheet as well.

Selectmen stressed that they are not looking at withholding anyone’s pay but will be notify employees that proper signatures are required in order for paychecks to be processed. According to state statute, an employee must be paid within 10 days after the pay period ends.

In other employee news, the board agreed to maintain an insurance opt-out program that pays those municipal workers eligible to access the town’s insurance plan for a single insuree the incentive of $1,000 for three years if they choose not to take out a policy. Employees enrolled in a family plan will get $3,000 per year for opting out.

The board wants to establish a committee to draft a policy to inform investments for the town’s Other Post Employee Benefits initiative. The committee would consist of a representative each from the selectmen and finance boards and one at-large member from the community. Selectman Glenn Kemper stressed that this panel would not be discussing other more general investment policies for the town.

Selectmen spoke with a representative from Verizon Wireless regarding the possible leasing of space for antennae on the tower next to the Public Safety Complex. The 20-year lease would allow the company to install approximately 12 antennae and associated coaxial cables on the tower along with a prefabricated 12-by-30-foot equipment shed with an internal back-up power generator at its base. The representative estimated the going rate for this type of lease was around $2,000 per month.

Police Chief Lisa Holmes, fire Chief Scott Berkenbush and police officer Michael Dwyer, who also serves on the Board of Fire Engineers, indicated there is no room for additional antennae on the tower, which already houses four antennae used for public safety operations.

There is also no room on the safety complex’s existing interior or exterior footprint to house an equipment shed, Dwyer said, adding that on-site parking is already at a premium. But selectmen did not rule out the idea and asked Dwyer to work with the representative to further vet it.

A new agreement with the town of Newburyport for shared animal control officer services was approved; a draft of a request for qualifications for a solar panel installation on Pipestave Hill was reviewed; and the International Lilac Society received an OK to use the Town Annex on Sept. 28 for a meeting. The use of facility fee was waived with the stipulation that society would donate some lilacs to the garden club.

Selectmen approved a street opening permit for installation of gas service at 7 Merrill St.

Kemper requested that Chairman Bert Knowles Jr. add an executive session to an upcoming meeting agenda for the purpose of discussing contracts.