READFIELD — The town will pay about $15,000 in severance to the former employees of the Public Works Department.

Selectmen unanimously approved the payments last week for the four full-time employees and one part-time employee, opting for a slightly less generous package than Selectman John Perry initially proposed.

After a discussion the selectmen offered to provide two months of health and dental benefits rather than three, finance officer Teresa Shaw said.

“They felt with COBRA, they could reduce it,” she said, referring to the federal law that provides continuing health coverage for workers between jobs.

Full-time employees will receive 80 hours of pay, at their most recent wage, for each full or partial year they worked for the department prior to Thursday.

The part-time employee’s severance is based on average hours per week at the most recent wage, multiplied by the number of full or partial years working for the department.

Shaw estimated the total at $15,670, but she has not made the final, precise calculations.

Former Public Works director John Moultrie and other employees of the department are still working for the town on projects funded through other parts of the budget, such as the lower fairgrounds trail and a retaining wall at the beach.

That work would probably take another month, Moultrie said.

He said it has been a difficult few weeks for the workers since Readfield residents voted by a narrow margin to abolish the Public Works Department.

“They’re all adults, and they’re taking it as well as can be expected,” he said. “This has been trying on everybody.”

Moultrie expressed gratitude to the selectmen for providing the severance packages.

“I think it’s generous of the town to do that,” he said. “I think they probably feel bad at what’s happened.”

The selectmen also clarified an action taken last month to make up to $10,000 available for cemetery mowing and building maintenance. The money will come from the carry-forward account of the Public Works Department, not from $50,000 the town has set aside for emergencies.

“They had talked about it, but they felt it would not pass the straight-face test of any emergency,” Shaw said.

The vote on that motion was 3-1, with Perry dissenting.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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