Wages and benefits could be up without any changes in staffing levels or changes in the town’s self-insured health care plan, according to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.

“We are investigating the latter,” Vanderslice said following a Board of Selectmen meeting Oct. 1 at which she described the expected increase in wages and benefits on the Board of Selectmen side of the budget. That does not include schools.

“As far as wages, over the last couple of years we have reduced and combined positions resulting in a net reduction of employees within the town budget. At this point, additional staff reductions are not expected for FY 2020,” Vanderslice said.

Wage, step increases and a planned additional  DPW employee likely means the Board of Selectmen will start the FY2020 budget with a 1.2% to 1.4%  increase to the entire BOS budget, she said. Leading up to that observation are contractual wage increases of 2.25% for police and Town Hall union employees and contract negotiations for fire and Teamsters. She noted that non- union wage increases had been at 2% or less for three years, but that the cost of living is up 2.5% and higher.

She  indicated that if medical costs were up 8%, similar to the average, then wages and benefits alone would be a 2% increase on the total BOS budget.

The department budgets for fiscal year 2020 have not been prepared nor has the budget process been started.

The information shared was to provide some context as the board members prepare for the upcoming budget process, she said.

More information has been added to this story from its original version.