SHIRLEY -- The three-member Board of Selectmen will be chaired this term by David Swain, with Kendra Dumont serving as vice chairman and Robert Prescott as clerk.

The board restructured itself Monday night, a routine move after town elections and annual Town Meeting each year.

The vote was unanimous for each nomination.

Insurance moves

Selectmen agreed to add a new dental plan option to its employee health insurance package. Although the new plan includes a relatively minor town contribution, it offers added perks such as restorative care, or crowns, executive assistant Kathleen Rocco said.

Another difference is the flat rate. "It costs more, but it covers more," she said.

Rocco said the plan is "popular" with employees and sign-in would be on a one-year trial basis. "There's room in the budget" to cover the added $4,000 expense for a year, she said.

Prescott said the decision was a "no-brainer" for him, adding that town employees "worked with us," to come up with an insurance design plan change that cost the town substantially less this year. "This is a good thing," he said of the proposed new dental plan, which will cost employees about $400 a year.

Another insurance-related proposal on the table was a flexible spending plan for which the town rather than employees would pay administrative costs of about $60 per year for each subscriber.

The pay-in may have kept sign-up on the low side, while the town taking over the fee would likely encourage participation in the plan, Treasurer Kevin Johnston said.

Available with annual rollovers for a 20-year period, it allows employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses not typically covered by insurance, such as eyeglasses, co-pays for emergency room visits and up to $5,000 a year for child care or elder care, Johnston explained.

Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said the $2,400 cost to buy into the program this year would come from a retirement fund budgeted for but "not happening" now. "That's what we're proposing," she said.

In addition, the town could sign up for a debit card system that provides quicker turnaround time for subscribers at the provider's window and offers some fee waivers "for long-standing municipal customers like us," Johnston said.

Selectmen voted unanimously for both proposals, calling them "employee investments."

Accounting firm

Selectmen agreed to re-hire the accounting firm Guisti, Hingston and Co. to perform the town's annual audit again.

Dick Hingston and other company accountants have a long list of municipal customers and have more than satisfactorily performed this service for the town for several years, as Swain has previously pointed out. Plus, the firm has historically included perks outside the main function, he said, such as meetings, presentations and availability for questions and consultations with selectmen, the town administrator and the financial team.

Selectman Robert Prescott was leery of continuing the long-term arrangement and suggested seeking other options when the contract came up for renewal last time around. Now he agrees it should continue.

As a result of the earlier discussion, however, contract terms now call for annual renewal instead of multiple-year contract terms, as in the past.

-- M.E. Jones