September 2, 2014

Town Meeting Set on Essex Volunteer Firefighter Merit Service Plan

ESSEX— Voters will be asked at a Sept. 5 town meeting to approve an enhancement to the town’s existing merit service pension benefit for volunteer firefighters. The change, endorsed by the board of selectmen last week, would increase the  monthly pension stipend for qualifying volunteers from the current $15 per month to $16.65 per month. It would be the first increase in the pension stipend since the plan began in 1992.
Volunteers must have at least 10 years of active service in the Essex Volunteer Fire Company. The plan provides the current $15, or the proposed $16.65, per month for each year of vested service after ten years. The current maximum pension payment is $450 per month. If approved by voters at the town meeting, the maximum payment would increase to $500 per month.
Essex volunteer firefighters may also qualify for a property tax abatement under a separate program offered by the town to attract and retain volunteers for the department. Firefighters earn points for active participation under guidelines established bny the fire company to qualify for an abatement of up to $1,000 deducted off a firefighters annual property tax bill.
Voters at the town meeting will also be asked to approve an amendment to the retirement plan for town employees that designates the appointed retirement committee, and ultimately the elected board of selectmen, as the bodies charged with attempting to resolve any disputes related to an employees retirement benefit.
The Sept. 5  town meeting to vote on the firefighters merit service enhancement and the proposed amendment to the town retirement plan is set for 7 p.m. at town hall. The town meeting will be preceded by a public hearing on both agenda items that begins at 6:30 p.m.