City Council approves Weirs parking increase, city employee compensation plans | Local News

LACONIA — A parking fee increase for Lakeside Avenue and Endicott Rock Park was approved by the Laconia City Council at its May 9 meeting, along with a new wage and compensation for city employees not covered by a union, an agreement for a pay increase and benefits adjustment for with the public works union, AFSCME, and a plan to offer dental coverage to city employees. 

Hourly parking fees on Lakeside Avenue and at Endicott Rock park will increase to $2 and $2.50 respectively. Lakeside Avenue parking is projected to bring in about $150,000 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, ending on June 30 and the new fee, by doubling the current one, is therefore expected to raise, conservatively, a total of $275,000 for the general fund, according to City Manager Scott Myers.

The first $25,000 of collected parking revenue from Endicott Rock park go to the general fund, with any additional money going to the Weirs Beach refurbishment fund; the rate increase is projected to raise $12,000 for the beach refurbishment fund next fiscal year, according to a report from the Department of Public Works. Read the report at https://www.laconianh.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/20650?fileID=43437 

The council approved the fee increase unanimously. 

John Paula, Vice President of the Weirs Action Committee, which previously wrote in an email to the Laconia Daily Sun that it opposed the fee increase, said that the WAC is now in support of the increase. WAC’s initial opposition, according to Paula, was due to concern about whether the amount allocated to the beach refurbishment fund would be altered by the amendment— it was not.  

An application by the New Hampshire Electric Co-op to use an herbicide treatment to undesirable vegetation along the path of one of its transmission lines on Leighton Avenue was tabled by the Council.  

The city Conservation Commission asked the city council to not support the use of herbicides along the transmission lines and to not allow the NH Electric Coop to proceed with the herbicide use, as outlined by the coop in its April 1 announcement, which can be found at laconianh.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/20646?fileID=43426

In its recommendation, the Conservation Commission noted that a number of homeowners in the Leighton Avenue area are concerned for the water quality of their private wells and the lake. 

Councilors wanted more information about what the potential alternatives to herbicide would be and what the potential consequences to service quality of delaying vegetation management along this line would be before voting on the matter. They were also cognizant that the intended treatment date is, according to the coop’s announcement, on or around June 15. 

The Council approved a plan to offer dental insurance to city employees and in the city pension program starting in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. 

The council also approved a tentative, three-year agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents sixteen employees in the Department of Public Works. 

This agreement makes health insurance adjustments, adding dental coverage, raising deductibles and contributing to a health reimbursement account to assist employees when the deductible is not met, according to Myers. 

The agreement also addresses issues with attracting and retaining public works employees, Myers said, by raising the lowest pay step and raising the highest pay step in the payment package. Myers said that the city, after comparing its compensation rates with those provided by local construction companies, found that it was “significantly underpaying” its equipment operators and drivers, and that this structural raise in compensation rates is aimed to help with the hiring challenges it has faced with these positions. 

Councilors approved a wage and compensation plan for city employees not part of union membership, such as middle management positions, library workers and police officers ranking above detective, with similar cost of living adjustments and health insurance changes. 

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