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Article approved one day before Townsend Town Meeting

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TOWNSEND — A $4,500 article to fund an update to the town’s employee-compensation plan will be on the warrant for Wednesday’sTown Meeting.

The previous week, the board decided to wait to discuss and vote on the remaining article until their meeting the day before the Special Town Meeting.

“I think there’s a need and benefit for funding an update on the compensation plan,” Town Administrator Andy Sheehan said to selectmen Tuesday.

The salary schedule was accelerated by 2.5 percent last year, but still comes up short compared to other towns, he said.

“We’re a little behind,” said Sheehan.

When trying to fill vacant positions recently, Townsend had several candidates who declined the jobs because of the low pay.

“It wasn’t that we were a little shy,” Sheehan said. “We were way out of the market.”

Chairman Sue Lisio voted in favor of including the study on the warrant.

“I believe the project is an important one,” she said. “People are saying ‘nah, no thanks,’ because we can’t compete financially.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about it,” said Selectman Colin McNabb. “If I’m unsure, I think we should just leave it up to town meeting to decide.”

He voted in favor of the article.

Selectman Carolyn Smart voted against including it on the warrant.

The project could be done in a few hours for much less money, she said. “I’d do it for free.”

“I would be totally against anyone who’s associated with the town doing this,” McNabb said.

If money is going to be spent on the compensation plan, Smart said she would like to see a comparison that includes not only salary, but benefits. Townsend employees pay a smaller percentage of their health-insurance costs than employees in other towns.

“A total compensation study is a different animal,” Sheehan said. Townsend would not compare well to other communities because it does not have retiree health insurance benefits.

Town meeting is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Hall.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.

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