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West Carthage approves sewage plant contract

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WEST CARTHAGE — During the special meeting Jan. 29, the village Board of Trustees completed its main objective: to approve the contract for employees of the Water Pollution Control Facility, the sewer treatment plant jointly managed by the village along with the village of Carthage.

The contract, negotiated through Teamsters Local 687, allows for a change in health insurance plans from the select plan to the high-deductible health care plan effective Jan. 1. Under the new agreement, employees will contribute to their health insurance $1,400 annually each of the five years. Wage increases will be 2 percent for the first two years, 2.5 percent for the following two and 3 percent for the final year.

Under the five-year contract, the employees will be given a clothing allowance instead of the plant purchasing uniforms.

At the Jan. 15 meeting, following an executive session to discuss the matter, the WPCF management board recommended the village boards approve Teamsters Union contract effective April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2017.

The Carthage board approved the contract, contingent on legal counsel, at its Jan. 21 meeting.

The West Carthage board also changed its health insurance policy for village employees. Since 2010 there has been a difference between what is paid for non-union and union employees. The trustees approved a change effective Feb. 1 to pay the same across the board. The increased payment for the four employees will cost the village about $40. However, with a change in insurance policy through the Teamsters, the municipality will reap savings.

The village board discussed the adoption of a best value policy for procurement of goods and services. The change would allow the board to take into consideration factors other than low bid when awarding contracts, such as quality of work or availability of services. A public hearing is set for 6 p.m. Monday in conjunction with the monthly meeting at the municipal building, 61 High St.

The village also discussed cash flow for the water and sewer funds.

“It’s an issue every year — the cash flow is quite off. It equals out at the end of the year,” Mayor Scott M. Burto said.

He said when water and sewer bills are not paid by a resident, the unpaid bills are levied on the Jefferson County tax bill, and if the county taxes are paid, the funds are reimbursed to the village. Village Clerk Deborah J. Pierce said most repeat offenders do pay through the county taxes.

Trustee Michael T. Bigness suggested an alternative would be to shut off the water if bills are not paid. The mayor said if that route were taken, the offender should be given 90 days before stopping water service. “It’s not our goal to shut people off,” he said. The clerk suggested a “hang tag” would be put on residents’ doors to alert them of the impending shutoff.

It was decided that the boards will check with other municipalities to determine how they handle unpaid utility bills before changing policy.

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