Pownal under new insurance policy with VLCT After two presentations, selectmen switch provider


POWNAL -- The Pownal selectmen called a special meeting on Thursday to select an insurance plan based on presentations given during the June 12 and June 19 meetings. The town's current provider is Wills Insurance of Bennington.

After reviewing options for Wills and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the three present members of the selectboard chose to take the higher quoted insurance rate from VLCT for the benefit of the services that are included.

With the absence of Richard Ryder and board chair Nelson Brownell, the board weighed its options of cost against benefits. The decision had to be made for either insurance policy to go into effect by the beginning of the town's fiscal year on July 1.

Since the board listened to presentations of the two insurance options, present board members expressed frustration in making the decision with just a few board members. "I wish we had a full board here. I think there is a lot to be discussed," said selectman Jason Olansky.

Included in the policy offered by VLCT is free legal consultation, opportunities for town employee training, worker compensation insurance and $10 million in liability coverage. The annual cost of the plan is substantially more than the Wills policy. Both policy dues are based on the size of a municipality's population.

Secretary to the board, Linda Sciarappa, mentioned the inclusion of legal consultation, which is otherwise an additional annual cost. "We pay $4,600 a year to be the member of the league to provide legal consultation."

Selectman Ron Bisson turned the board's attention to the benefit of a high liability coverage, which currently is much lower.

"$1 million in liability is nothing: It's peanuts. If there was a severe accident, that could be a problem," Bisson said. "I've talked to some people in the town, and they tell me it's a no brainer with that liability."

Bisson also brought up a concern that VLCT could pick apart safety regulations and small problems that could be costly to fix. "I think your part about them coming in and finding issues and safety things: That's to our benefit. It makes a safer workplace for our guys. I would rather them find a problem than an OSHA inspector," Olansky said in response.

The Pownal selectboard has been given presentations by VLCT in previous year, but stayed with private insurance until now. Visit http://bit.ly/1lVFufz for a summary of the June 12 presentation. Learn more about VLCT online at http://www.vlct.org/.

Before adjourning the meeting, Henry Strohmaier made a motion to assume VLCT's policy with the stipulation that if the insurance would not go into effect by Friday morning, the town would continue its policy with Wills Insurance. The motion passed 3-0.

After the meeting, a call was made to VLCT and the insurance went into effect immediately. The contract period ends December 31.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg


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