Oct 182013

By Sam Conner
The Winslow City Council held a special meeting Tuesday for an executive session on a personnel matter regarding a possible city vacancy and an action item regarding a policy change in the city’s Smartworks program.
After the executive session the council called Human Resources Director David Coolidge to explain the Smartworks program and the reasons for the proposed changes. He noted that the city currently has people who retire leased back from Smartworks for 80 percent of their salary. He said that the change would pay them 100 percent of their preretirement salary, and offer medical, dental, vision and life insurance, and short term disability benefits. The changes would not be retroactive.
Judy Howell spoke, noting that the item should be tabled as it was controversial and had not been well publicized. She said that there were a number of persons who would speak against it if it were held at a regular, well publicized meeting.
She later said that the Smartworks program was double-dipping, and hurt retirees who had been seeing the highest paid persons in the city and the school district not paying into the state retirement system, which has hurt those who had retired before from that system.
Coolidge said that a fairly recent change by the legislature increased the amount a retired-rehired person would pay or have paid the state retirement system to help offset the amount not paid by the retired-rehired person.
Councilman Harold Soehner moved to make the changes recommended by staff. Mayor Robin Boyd seconded the motion, which failed in a 4-3 vote. Councilman Bob Schlesinger joined Soehner and Boyd in voting for the change, and Council Members Peter Cake, Curtis Hardy, Marsha Juergens and Marshall Losey voted against it. Losey voted by telephone and had participated in the executive session by phone as well.
There was no action on the executive session item, but Mayor Boyd indicated that the employee in question would have depended upon acceptance of the Smartworks proposal.