Commissioners concerned about MainePERS rule changes
On Oct. 2, Lincoln County Administrator Carrie Kipfer informed commissioners of changes to Maine Public Employee Retirement System rules that would require Lincoln County, or other Participating Local Districts across Maine who hire retired people receiving pensions from MainePERS, to pay five percent of the employee’s salary toward the unfunded actuarial liability (UAL).
According to Kipfer, there are issues of age discrimination, since younger employees are not required to enroll in MainePERS as a condition of employment. “We want to hire retirees,” she said. “There are great benefits to hiring people who have experience. This is unfair to them, because they’ve already paid their dues and won’t be getting anything else from the system.”
The county, likewise, receives no benefit from the rule change. Only MainePERS receives funding.
To give an example, Kipfer said, the county had rehired a deputy in the Sheriff’s Office a few years ago, about three months after he retired and accepted his pension. He did not pay into MainePERS, since he would receive no additional benefit from it, nor was the county required to pay anything on his behalf. The retired deputy is no longer working with the Sheriff’s Office, but in a similar situation, the county would be required to pay, possibly recouping the funds from the employee’s check.
Kipfer was concerned about how to approach retirees seeking employment with the new policy, and was concerned about how the county would be able to address allegations of age discrimination if younger employees were not subject to the same fees, or not required to enroll in the retirement plan at all.
Commissioners asked how it would affect local policy. Kipfer said she would have to make sure any questions she asked in interviews were legal, and she proposed running interview protocol through the county’s attorney.
MainePERS notified the county of the change Sept. 24, and the policy change affected employees hired as of Oct. 1, with grandfathering for employees hired before that date for three years during which time they would not have to pay the five percent fee. The Wiscasset Newspaper tried to contact PLD Plan Administrator Stephanie Fecteau for clarification about the new policy. A phone call was not immediately returned.
Harold Spetla of Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission is resigning to become Assistant Planner for the Greater Portland Council of Governments, according to his Sept. 19 letter. His last day is Oct. 5. Instead of immediately replacing him, Kipfer said the search would start for County Planner, to replace Bob Faunce when he retires in March. The planner will be hired as soon as possible, then shadow Faunce to learn his job. Spetla’s job will be filled in January, when more funding becomes available.
Steele’s Landscaping of Wiscasset was granted the contract for snow plow service. Steele’s price did not increase from last year; the fee will be $13,500 per year, and the contract is for three years. The purchase order for chimney repairs to the historic courthouse, awarded to All Seasons Brick and Stone of Topsham last month, was approved. The contract was held up for a month while Kipfer checked references and insurance. The Sheriff’s Office received authorization of payment for the installation of new equipment into the new patrol vehicle, which was slightly more than the previous vehicle because it needed additional items, at $6.500. Commissioners approved allowing the Armed Forces Benefit Association to address employees of the Sheriff’s Office for life insurance, after Lt. Rand Maker provided more information about the agency. The commissioners approved authorization for five more ballistic vests, at $4,500. The Department of Justice will pay half. Commissioners also accepted forfeiture funds totalling $2,500 from a drug bust in Waldoboro, and the high bid on four vehicle sales, totaling $12,331.
Kate Marone spoke about Healthy Lincoln County/SUPP’s survey of local students about their use of substances. For the first time, marijuana experienced greater use than alcohol, although nicotine, especially in the form of vaping, or juuling, remains the highest priority for the group.