AYER -- Selectmen considered taking legal action against Treasurer Stephanie Gintner Tuesday, following a heated exchange over health-care bills and reimbursements that have gone unpaid.
Selectman Jannice Livingston said Gintner has not been paying health-care payments to town retirees because she thinks the state law regulating such payments is poorly written. The law requires treasurers from multiple government units to work together to determine the proper payment for a retiree who has worked one or more government jobs. One municipality will pay the employee's entire insurance premium and will later be reimbursed by the other towns of employment.
Livingston said Gintner indicated she asked other municipalities what they thought of the law, and they also agreed it was unworkable.
But Livingston said the board has no confirmation that other towns are not paying these bills because they think the law is poorly written.
"We are receiving bills and they are not being paid," Livingston said. "As of today's date, we also don't seem to have any confirmation that we are billing anyone.
She said the situation is going to turn into a snowball effect.
"It is a law," she said. "We cannot pick and choose laws."
Selectman James Fay said that the board could hire a lawyer to write a letter requesting that Gintner obey the law.
"If we have to take our town officials to court every time we want something done, then that's what we have to do," he said.
Fay said the board and Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand will continue to pressure Gintner into paying the reimbursements.
"This is stuff that I guess we're going to have to keep bringing up," said Vice Chairman Christopher Hillman.
Gintner could not be reached Tuesday night for comment. A phone message was not returned.
Despite snow-plowing challenges, selectmen also agreed that the Public Works Department should still be responsible for clearing Old Groton Road.
Public Works Director Mark Wetzel said he found a private contractor who would plow up to 4 inches on the road for $75. The department has had trouble plowing the road with its nine-foot plows.
But Fay opposed hiring a private contractor, along with others.
"I'd just say plow the road the way you've been doing it," Fay said. "I'm not comfortable with doing a private contract."
Selectman Pauline Conley suggested that the department plow the road with its back hoe early so that the road is not neglected as it has been in the past.
"I think there's a happy medium that will accommodate the residents and also not necessitate a private contract," she said.
Selectmen also discussed the future possibility of GPS systems in town vehicles, which Hillman said could be a benefit to town employees and their supervising officers. Fay and Hillman agreed that it would be helpful to bring in an expert from Waltham to present the subject before the board.
Chairman Gary Luca also brought forth updates on the town-wide life insurance policy, which increased its benefits from $2,000 to $5,000 per employee.
Although the board agreed to adopt the new policy, members also agreed to have an expert explain policy logistics to them.
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