Health insurance costs drive 2.7% overall increase for town/highway

By LEE J. KAHRS

PROCTOR – Health insurance is the most expensive cost driving an increase in the proposed Proctor town budget.

The select board approved a proposed $897,690 General Fund FY 2021 budget at a special meeting Dec. 30 to send to voters on Town Meeting Day that includes a 4.3 percent increase in spending.

Combined with the proposed Highway budget of $533,000, the total proposed budget increase comes to 2.7 percent.

Outgoing Town Manager Stan Wilbur collects Social Security, and the town reimburses him for Medicare Part B, supplemental and Part D prescription drug costs. Between that reimbursement and the cost of insurance for a new town manager, the town had to budget for an $18,000 increase in health insurance costs in FY2021.

Wilbur is set to retire in June, and a search is underway for a new town manager.

The proposed costs increase from the currently budgeted $4,168 to $22,285.

On the other hand, there will be a $9,100 reduction in the budget for the town manager search once a new manager is hired.

“I’ll be out for the next budget because hopefully someone will be sitting here,” Wilbur said.

Other costs include an $11,000 increase in the cost of contracting with the Rutland County Sheriffs Department, which went from $70,820 to $80,715.

For the renovations to the town office building, Wilbur said the board budgeted for a $60,000 increase in the total cost of the project, which will be paid for out of $50,000 from the town office reserve fund and $15,000 from the town office equipment fund.

Mosquito control funds will also increase the parks line item in the budget. Wilbur said the board approved a $12,000 increase in mosquito control, from $5,000 currently to an anticipated $15,000.

HIGHWAY BUDGET

The board also approved a $500,533 Highway budget for 2021 that is unchanged from the current budget for that department. But there had to be a compromise to get to that zero increase, and it was driven by health care costs as well. Wilbur said healthcare costs for highway employees went from $45,600 to $69,200, a 34 percent increase due to increases in premium for Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage.

The reason the Highway budget remained unchanged, however, is because in order to afford the health care increases, the town had to reduce the number of highway projects scheduled for the coming year.

“We’re not going to pave this year,” Wilbur said. “I think we’ll do some sidewalks, and if there’s a surplus from the current Highway budget, we’ll use it for paving, but we won’t know until the audit report comes out.”