Chester Board of Selectmen OK 8% Increase on Plow Rates

By Alex Malm

At the July 21 Chester Board of Selectmen meeting one of the agenda items was in regards to proposed rates for next year’s snow plow drivers.
“As you know everything is up,” said Road Agent Mike Oleson.
Oleson added everything in the contract will stay the same as this year including the insurance requirements, but the hourly rates for drivers needs to go up. The cost of fuel along with things like tires have all gone up.
His proposal was to increase the rate by 10%.
“I think that’s fair,” said Oleson.
Board of Selectmen Chairman, Chuck Myette, asked if they got anything from the contracted drivers.
Oleson stated they have the same crew coming back, but a couple had asked if they could earn a little more money per hour.
“It’s not surprising, the 10% is steep,” said Myette.
It was pointed out by Myette they didn’t put that increase into the budget.
With that Myette acknowledged having snow plowers is important.
“We have to get it done,”said Myette.
Selectmen, Steve Couture, asked if they can do 8%.
“I’ll live with that,” said Oleson.
Oleson pointed out they always go with what the CPI indicates for inflation and some years it has been 0 or 1 percent.
“We’ve always done CPI,” stated Oleson.
Oleson added they are hopeful fuel prices may go down, which would help with the cost of things.
“All we can do is hope fuel goes down,” said Oleson.
Oleson explained last year they didn’t give much of an increase for the small trucks, but the large trucks had a bit of an increase, so he felt 8% was fair.
Chester Town Administrator, Deb Doda, said if they had one of each vehicle it would be about $35 an hour extra and in total based on the budget it could increase $16,000 to $20,000.
Oleson said that he is hopeful they will get very little snow this year.
“Let’s hope we don’t get any,” said Oleson.
Oleson added it is important to have competitive rates for the drivers because other towns are in similar situations and are looking for drivers as well.
“There are towns trying to grab them,” said Oleson.
The Board of Selectmen ultimately unanimously approved increasing the hourly rate by 8%.
Oleson stated he is also concerned about the salt prices and how that may impact the budget. He added they still haven’t gotten the prices for this year.
“They aren’t releasing salt prices,” said Oleson.
He explained he has been trying to get in touch with the sales rep for the company, but they won’t give them a final number.
“They will not commit on a number,” said Oleson.