BENTON — The Board of Selectmen has yet to reach an agreement on a health care plan for three Town Office staff members, nearly three weeks after residents at Town Meeting voted to approve $60,000 toward such insurance coverage.

The issue came to a head during the March 11 Town Meeting, when a debate over a $75,000 proposal for health insurance for two full-timers and one part-timer. Residents at the meeting balked at the $75,000 proposal, saying the town shouldn’t pay 100 percent of the health insurance premiums for the three employees. A number of residents at the meeting stood and said they had to pay money for their health insurance, so the Town Office workers should have to as well.

Eventually, Selectwoman Robin Cyr proposed reducing the $75,000 to $60,000 and allowing selectmen to research the health care packages offered and decide on appropriate ones for office staff. By a show of hands, residents approved Cyr’s recommendation to appropriate $60,000 to allow selectmen to find the best packages possible for the three town employees.

But with an agenda heavy with employee benefit-related discussions, the three-member Board of Selectmen was not able to reach an agreement during a two-hour meeting Monday night.

First Selectman Dan Chamberlain said nothing was resolved at the Monday night meeting. He said one board member, Melissa Patterson, works in the Town Office, so they needed to check into the legalities of whether there was a conflict of interest. The other board member is Robin Cyr.

Chamberlain said he didn’t believe there was a conflict, as Patterson abstained from Monday night’s meeting.

Patterson, who said she did not attend Monday’s meeting and is also listed as a full-time senior office staff member, said the board was “right back where we were to begin with” regarding the agreement to let the decision be at the discretion of the board but to not exceed $60,000. The other Town Office staffers are Brandy Meader, who is full-time, and Susan Rodrigue, who works part time.

The health care packages recommended for the three staff members would come from Maine Municipal Employees Health Trust. Chamberlain said he didn’t foresee any major issues with finding an appropriate health care option within this price frame. He went on to say the Maine Municipal Employees Health Trust offers multiple plans, with some even under the $60,000 threshold.

He said the board hopes to have everything figured out by its next meeting, on April 10.

“We should be able to come up with something,” Chamberlain said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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