[Updated] The selectmen have signed a contract with Cory Hunter for landscape maintenance of certain town properties. The board of selectmen recently acknowledged that, contrary to previous claims by Selectman Carolyn Sundquist, no written contract existed between the town and Mr. Hunter for his services. As a result, the selectmen signed a contract with Mr. Hunter. However, the contract has no start and end dates, and contains no conditions.
According to the contract, Mr. Hunter will charge the town of Tuftonboro $60 an hour for the spring and fall cleanup. For other services he charges a flat fee. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the hourly mean wage for an individual landscape worker in New Hampshire is $14.31. It is unclear how the flat fees would translate to hourly wages because some of the fees would go to supplies, such as mulch, and toward machine maintenance and fuel. The contract does not define what a “cleanup” entails or how many workers would be involved, so it is impossible to tell without further information whether $60 an hour is or is not an appropriate fee. I contacted the town of Wolfeboro to inquiry about their landscaping for comparison, but I was told that they do everything in-house, not through a contractor.
When I asked who had drawn up the contract, Karen Koch, the administrative secretary, wrote in an email that Mr. Hunter, not Rick Sager (the town’s legal counsel) had written the contract.
The contract provides no protection for the town in the event of liability issues. It does not require Mr. Hunter to carry liability insurance and does not specify how the work is to be done. In comparison, the 2010 document, which was never signed and therefore never a binding contract, contained clauses that would have required Mr. Hunter to carry $1,000,000 in general liability insurance, as well as to obtain all relevant licenses and permits necessary to perform work on town properties. In addition, the contract provides to protection for Mr. Hunter. If for some reason the town were to refuse to pay Mr. Hunter for services rendered, there is no clause that would protect him in the event he was forced to sue the town for recompense.
Update: I updated and revised this post after I originally posted it. I should have written it more neutrally from the start. A reader pointed out that perhaps the $60 an hour will cover multiple workers. That is certainly possible. If the contract spelled out what “spring and fall cleanups” entailed and how many workers would be used then that would go a long way to explaining the reasoning behind the $60 an hour fee. Also, I did not intend to imply that I believed that Mr. Hunter should be paid the exact hourly mean wage as listed by the BLS. I meant only to illustrate what I thought as a huge, unexplained imbalance between the two figures. I do understand that labor is not the only cost of doing business.