Berlin Alters Fuel Policy

BERLIN – Berlin will monitor its fuel consumption more closely under a new town vehicle fuel conservation policy.

The Berlin Mayor and Council discussed the new fuel policy and two other new personnel policies for Berlin employees at the second June meeting on Wednesday night. The meeting was pushed back two days, instead of being held on the usual Monday, to allow elected officials to attend the Maryland Municipal League Convention in Ocean City.

The council extended the job return period for employees on military service from two to five years and discussed allowing eligible retiring employees to stay on the town health insurance plan.

A new fuel policy was instigated by a suggestion from Berlin Council member Ellen Lang. The new reporting policy will allow the town to monitor the impact of the rapid rise in gasoline prices.

“We’re spending a lot of money on fuel and we need to pursue all areas of fuel conservation,” said deputy administrative director Rachel Bomar, who has a strong background in human resources.

“It was an excellent idea,” said interim Mayor Gee Williams.

Personnel should be educated on fuel conservation, Bomar said, and fuel economy considered when purchasing new vehicles. Fuel consumption, under the policy, will be reported to the administrative director every quarter.

“It seems like a lot of this is more an educational process,” Williams said.

Lang suggested limiting use of take-home vehicles, assigned to town employees like department heads and police officers, to commuting.

Administrative Director Linda Bambary said the current policy restricts take-home vehicles to commuting and incidental stops along the way, but bans personal use of the vehicles.

The Berlin Police Department has already switched from allowing officers with take-home vehicles to use them within a five-mile radius of their home, to commuting only.

The council approved the new fuel conservation and military service policies Wednesday night, but postponed voting on the retiree health insurance policy until the staff has more information.

Under the proposed retiree health plan policy, a retiring employee with 15 years of service, over 55 years old, can stay with the town health plan by paying full premiums. The policy would also apply to an employee taking a disability retirement after five years of service. The council requested a list of eligible employees and their ages before making a decision.