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Somerset Village Board approves 3 percent raise for employees in 2017

Trustees for the Village of Somerset approved a three percent raise in wages for non-represented employees for 2017 at their meeting last Tuesday night.

Trustee Ryan Sicard presented the three percent proposal to fellow trustees noting that the village has yet to negotiate wages with several department heads which could still impact the final number. The village also plans to set aside $15,000 for merit pay starting in 2017.

“We are still working on an additional compensation model where we will be setting aside an additional $15,000 in the budget to work on pay-for-performance and/or merit pay proposals for implementation next year. More details to come on that,” said Sicard.

Trustee Sicard also summarized the Finance/Personnel Committee’s recommendation that the village switch health insurance companies from Health Partners to Medica beginning in 2017. Health Partners’ planned 29 percent increase for coverage for the village prompted the change.

“We had a 29 percent increase in our premium this year from Health Partners. So we tried to figure out what’d be the best option. Through our survey, we found out that moving to Medica would save us quite a bit,” said Village President John Melvin.

Trustees approved the recommendation switching companies to Medica along with a change requiring employees to pay for 10 percent of the premium cost for their policies beginning in 2017. Employees will have an option to buy up or down within Medica’s offered plans.

Library plans

Somerset Public Library director, Ginny Scheiderer, presented plans for the library remodel and expansion which would increase the library’s existing 3,500 square-foot footprint to 12,540 square feet.

“Twenty-three years is a long time in the same space and we need more of everything, more people, more talent, more technology and this expansion will help us to get there. Our service population is currently 14,000 people and that’s only going to grow. We are super frugal and we have been making it work with what we have, but we need more outlets, more storage, more space,” said Scheiderer.

Based on input from staff and community members, along with population projections, the new facility would increase space for nearly every aspect of library services, including collections, seating, technology, meetings, prep area and storage. Variances for the expansion have been approved though planners are still figuring out how to provide proportionate space to address parking needs for the expanded library. Drawings of the proposed changes are posted in the entryway to the library where residents are encouraged to post their suggestions using Post-it notes. Some of the suggestions received so far include, gender-neutral bathrooms, electric car chargers and bicycle racks.

Scheiderer plans next to schedule meetings with surrounding communities that use the library to present the proposed plans and collect their input and begin fundraising activities. The proposed plan will cost an estimated $2.5 million. Scheiderer promised the library will remain open during renovations.

Other business
  • Trustees approved a recommendation from the Public Works Committee to sign a new three-year contract renewal with Olson Sanitation. Trustee Bartt Palmer said options as to who would manage billing, Olson or the village, are still being discussed.

  • Trustees approved a contract worth $12,500 for site investigation and work to be performed by MSA Professional Services at the new well site #5 contingent on approval of the site by the Department of Natural Resources and Public Service Commission.

  • Cedar Corporation senior planner Patrick Beilfuss informed the board that the completion date for the Frances Street project has been pushed to 2017.

  • Trustees approved a recommendation by Senior Planner Beilfuss to amend to the village’s residential zoning ordinances to account for twin homes. A public hearing is to be scheduled to clarify the types of home businesses to be allowed including day care.

  • Trustees approved a new three-year contract with Associated Appraisal, including a $100 per-year increase.