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Chester board proposes to curb taxes by changing health care plans

The Town Chester Municipal Center is now depending on the power of the sun to provide electricity, as arrays of solar panels were hooked up the last week in September. Savings from solar power, reduction in assessor's salary, a change in health care plans, and delay of vehicle purchases are all contributing to the town's ability to keep its 2013 budget under the state's mandated tax cap.

The Town Chester Municipal Center is now depending on the power of the sun to provide electricity, as arrays of solar panels were hooked up the last week in September. Savings from solar power, reduction in assessor's salary, a change in health care plans, and delay of vehicle purchases are all contributing to the town's ability to keep its 2013 budget under the state's mandated tax cap. Photo by Thom Randall.

— As of this past week, the solar arrays for the town municipal center were hooked up, and in the first nine days, the solar arrays produced 1,750 kilowatts of energy — substantially more than expected, Monroe said.

Next week, workers will be pouring foundations for new solar arrays at the town’s Dynamite Hill Recreational area. These arrays will be providing electricity not only for the building located there, but two main pumps to transport drinking water for Chestertown residents.

Projected savings for 2013 include the town assessor retiring, yet offering to accomplish the same workload on a part-time basis, Monroe said.

The town board members talked about changing health plans, because the premiums are to increase about 7 percent, yet benefits are projected to be cut.

The board members are considering a switch from MVP Health Plans to Blue Shield, saving from $2,000 to $3,900 on each participating employee.

Although the new plan would include far higher co-pays, employees could draw from health care reimbursement accounts to subsidize such expenses, Monroe said.

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