The town’s switch from Delta Dental to Blue Cross Dental coverage saved $121,804 between July of 2011 and February of 2012, or a savings of 19 percent.
The switch was a controversial one, sparking a media firestorm between Mayor Joseph Polisena and Delta Dental. In the summer of 2010, Delta issued an open letter to taxpayers and employees claiming that the Blue Cross plan was not better, would not save money and was a direct breach of contract.
Polisena fired back, and on Monday, said the savings realized over the past year is vindication.
“They tried to discredit me during the election. They tried to make it political,” he said. “I think it backfired. They should stick to taking care of peoples’ teeth.”
The Blue Cross dental coverage does not represent any increases in terms of co-pays or out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.
“All of the contracts remained in tact,” the mayor said.
While the savings is not monumental, Polisena said that every bit helps.
“Thousands add up to hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands add up to millions over the years,” he said.
Municipal employees, police officers and firefighters all access the benefits, as well as retirees. There are 206 individual plans and 708 family plans, and Polisena said that no one opted out of the coverage.
In other Town Hall news, the administration is looking to invest in a biometric time clock system that would keep track of employee hours. Currently, Personnel Clerk Jen Goldberger keeps track in a handwritten binder. When an employee calls out, she physically checks off a box on a calendar, or when someone wants to know how much vacation time they have left, she has to go in and count the number of absences.
“I like the music of the ’70s, I don’t like the payroll of the ’70s,” Polisena said. “We’re going to modernize our payroll. For the small investment first, it’ll definitely be worth it.”
The system will cost between $10,000 and $13,000, according to Chris Rao from the town’s MIS Department. He has done research on the systems and said there are “quite a few” possible vendors in the state. He hopes to go out to bid by next week at the latest, and have the system in place “ASAP,” he said.
“Hopefully by the end of June it’ll be in,” he said.
Depending on the prices he gets, Rao said the town could purchase or lease the clocks. He thinks the system will not only modernize the department, but also save time and money in the long run.
“The system we’re using now is totally manual,” he said, adding that under an electronic system, “there’s a lot less chance for human error.”
Goldberger is a one-person department, so keeping manual records is time consuming. Under the new system, employees would scan their fingerprint to record what time they clock in and out. That information is forwarded to the town server and can be called up on the computer. Department heads will have the ability to access the system, either to check to see how many days an employee has missed, or to manually write in the reason for absence – whether it’s a sick day, vacation day or personal day.
“If they want to find anything out, ‘boom,’ there’s the history right there in front of them. It will all be tallied, all the time,” Rao said.
Polisena is particularly attracted to the pay stubs that are printed through this program. Data from the biometric clock would be exported to ADP, the payroll provider for the town, and then the pay stubs report how much vacation time each employee has. If an employee does not clock in, the system sends a notice to the supervisor.
Time clocks would be located at seven different sites: Town Hall, the Department of Public Works, Mohr Library, the police station, fire station, Parks and Recreation and the courthouse. All municipal employees under a union would use the time clocks, though department heads would not. Fire and police officers would not use the system either, as their schedules are more complex, but civilian clerks in those departments would.
Goldberg, carrying the binder she currently uses, called the current system “old school,” and said she is definitely looking forward to making the switch.
Plus, she said, “It’ll cut down on the carbon copies.”