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Town considers how to show appreciation for employees

BEDFORD - The town council last night committed itself to re-evaluating how it expresses its appreciation for employees.

The decision came during the council's annual retreat - an event at which councilors set goals for the coming year. Councilors took no votes on the substance of the goals they set for themselves, but did vote to determine the order of the goals on their priority list.

Much discussion was devoted to the annual employee appreciation luncheon the council sponsors for municipal workers.

Town Manager Jessie Levine said that during discussions with some town department heads, she got the impression that the annual luncheon is not well received by many who work for the town.

"An appreciation luncheon is less effective than actually appreciating," Levine said. "It's not about the money; it's about the genuineness of the appreciation. I'm just suggesting looking at this in another way."

Councilor Bill Dermody, however, advised against taking any action to eliminate the luncheon if there is no alternative expression of appreciation.

"We can't give them cash in an envelope and we can't identify the employee of the year and send them on a cruise," said Dermody. "And I'll be damned if I hear back from some employee that those cheap guys on the council took away our luncheon."

Councilor Jim Scanlon said before the council addresses how it expresses appreciation it should get to the bottom of why they're feeling unappreciated. "What we're really saying is we have to identify the core problems," Scanlon said. "Unless we understand the nature of the frustration of the employees, the solution is useless."

Levine, however, said "I don't think there's a morale problem. I just think we can do something more meaningful. The feedback I'm getting is that what's in place is not effective."

The retreat was held in a room at Centrix Bank in Bedford, away from the usual meeting place of the Town Council, which is in the BCTV studio at 10 Meetinghouse Road.

Other items the council plans to address in the future:

-- Develop a plan to address local road repairs.

-- Present a budget for 2014

-- Evaluate the process for making changes to the town charter

-- Review and revise the town council's public comment process at its meetings

-- Investigate and recommend any appropriate changes to the senior homeowners' property tax relief program.

-- Increase recycling by 10 percent

-- Actively participate in the development of the Route 101 widening design

-- Evaluate the zoning amendment process.

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Saturday, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.

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