Chester Plow Rates Set with New Fuel Calculator

CHESTER – Together with road agent Mike Oleson, the board of selectmen has authorized new plow rates and a new system to track and compensate plow drivers for their fuel costs.

Oleson brought the matter to the board at their Oct. 24 meeting, an annual tradition this time of year since Oleson took on the job of road agent. In 2008 Oleson and selectmen Jack Cannon created a matrix by which to adequately pay plow drivers, the impetus being Oleson’s concern that the rates had been stagnant for too long.
That system, in use since then, ties plow rates into the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as well as into a sliding scale representing fuel cost. Together with the adjustable rates, equipment is broken out into five categories. Those categories include a six wheeler with plow, wing and sander; a six wheeler with a plow and a sander; a one ton truck with plow and sander; a one ton with plow; and finally a backhoe. Each classification gets a separate rate and each year a fuel rate is calculated using Department of Energy statistics for the region.
Oleson, who had discussed his plans this year with his liaison, Cannon, suggested that while the CPI adjustment portion of the equation should remain unchanged, he presented a new way to track fuel costs. The road agent presented the State of New Hampshire’s method of paying its plow drivers, a system that daily tracks fuel prices and pays a commensurate amount on storm days.
It’s a published system that the town can follow and utilize, said Oleson.
“It’s worth trying this system to see how it goes,” he said.
Cannon agreed, saying, “I think we’ve been fair and adequate (in compensating for fuel) but this is a variable system and I think more fair.”
Cannon pointed to the ability of the system to pay a fair price to drivers, but also to benefit the town, should the prices drop. In the past the town was stuck with a single rate for the entire year, and though in comparison its rates were within pennies of the state system, there is still the possibility for things to change more drastically in the future.
The board agreed to try the State system.
The base plow rates per hour are as follows:
For a six wheeler with plow, wing and sander, it’s $86.12. For a six wheeler with plow and sander, the rate is $80.87. For a one ton with plow and sander, it’s $70.34. For a one ton with plow, it’s $65.08. And a backhoe is at $75.60.
The board approved the new rates and system with Cannon, Rich LeBlanc and Joe Hagan voting yes and chair Steph Landau abstaining, citing the fact that he had only seen the new rates that night. Joe Castricone was not in attendance.

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