$5,000 bonus questioned

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, January 02, 2018 12:21PM

The Wilton Water Works is requesting a $5,000 increase in its budget for a “retention bonus” for the department’s only employee.

The Water Works budget is currently proposed to increase by 1.08 percent, going from $270,969 to $273,909.

Selectman and Water Commissioner Kermit Williams said he does not anticipate that the Water Commission will be raising rates this year, due to either budgetary or capital expenses, and that the water department has sufficient capital reserves to cover any that will occur over the course of the year.

One of the biggest changes to the budget is the inclusion of a potential bonus for the department’s Superintendent, Mike Bergeron.

“For almost every other town job, we have backup,” said Williams. “We have people that can step in. The water system is a one-man job, and what we’d like to do is encourage retention.”

Williams said that the water commissioners were still discussing how a bonus to Bergeron might be awarded, saying that it had been discussed to make the bonus part of a contract in order to retain Bergeron for a set amount of time, calling the funds a “retention tool.”

“I would be very disappointed to lose Mike [Bergeron],” said Williams. “He is the water system at this point. He knows the system and its problems, and he’s a real asset. When you have a real asset you want them to stay with you.”

During a meeting of the Water Commission and later at a Budget Committee meeting discussing the water budget, Budget Committee member Harry Dailey said he was concerned that this would set a precedent, as it was not customary for the town to give bonuses to other department employees, according to meeting minutes.

Water Commissioner Tom Schultz argued that the Water Department is not a town entity.

While he said he doesn’t entirely agree with that standpoint, said Williams, he feels that the uniqueness of Bergeron’s position, and the importance of having continuity in the department justifies the expense.

Other changes in the Water Works budget include an increase in leased equipment, to reflect two lease payments for the Water Works truck, as opposed to one paid last year, and a $600 increase in Commissioner’s stipends, which were last increased three years ago.

The board is also continuing to discuss whether or not the town needs a new well, as both of its current wells are located within the same area. An additional well, located separately, could become a vital resource if something disastrous happens that affects that water supply, said Williams. The Water Department has sufficient funds in its capital reserves to drill a new well, and it does not require a town vote to do so, said Williams. The board will likely continue that conversation going into the new year.

The Budget Committee has decided to find a time in January to meet with the water commissioners to continue budget conversations.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@legertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.