PARIS, Maine — Town employees are being given the opportunity to take home bonuses if they can identify ways the town can save money in its day-to-day operations.
At its meeting Monday, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a short-term cost-cutting program for the 2013-14 fiscal year, drawn up by Selectman Robert Wessels.
The new program gives employees an additional incentive to find places to save the town money by offering 10 percent of the savings in the form of a bonuses, Wessels told the board.
He said the policy might give employees extra motivation to go through town expenses with a “much finer toothed comb” to identify areas where there could be savings.
According to the program, the cost-cutting ideas brought forward by employees need to save the town at least $500 per year.
If employees find a one-time $550 savings, for example, they will receive a $55 check. If the savings are based on monthly purchases, it needs to reach the $500 minimum before the bonus is paid.
Selectmen approved a payout cap for the program, limiting bonuses to $1,000 per employee.
Wessels said the program, if successful, essentially won’t cost the town anything to implement, it will just recoup slightly less than it would without the bonuses.
In the past few weeks, townspeople have expressed concern with the increase in their tax bills and the town could prevent more increases in the future if it concentrated on finding savings in areas it could control, he said.
The program will only remain in effect until the end of the fiscal year. Wessels told the board he was uncomfortable having a standing bonus policy, but if the idea worked, it or something similar could be put in place in the future.
Placing a yearlong limit on the incentive was important to encourage employees to come up with savings ideas quickly, Wessels said.
Board Chairman Bob Kirchherr said he agreed with the program but wanted to make sure it would not compromise the town’s purchasing policy, which requires sealed bids.
Wessels said the limited incentive program wouldn’t override the town’s standing policies.