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Trash Pickup Again a Topic at Selectmen's Meeting

by Bobby Blair
December 19, 2017

Under the public comments section of Monday night's selectmen meeting, Robert Cassidy, a trustee for the Regency Drive Condominium Association, requested a week extension for town-provided trash pickup. Selectmen almost a year ago voted to cease trash pickup to several apartment and condominium complexes in town. Fall Town Meeting opted to vote that complexes such as Regency Drive be allowed town trash pickup, but the vote was non-binding.

Cassidy argued that his board had only been elected in November and didn't have time to secure a trash contractor. Cassidy told the selectmen repeatedly that he was only requesting a one week extension until the 7th of January. Chairman Kevin Conley said his board could not give Cassidy an answer as the topic couldn't be discussed as it wasn't on the night's agenda. The next regular meeting of the selectmen is not scheduled until January 3rd. Selectman Jay Marsden told Cassidy that "we've made our position very clear and I would say no on the 3rd". Mark Ahronian noted that a years notice is a long time, "we're not trying to make one condo association special over another".

Town Administrator Jeff Ritter rolled out a list of special projects by the town as requested by State Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Carolyn Dykema. The list is being compiled should there be state funds available. The list includes substance abuse, veteran benefits, senior center weatherization and a vehicle, dressing up to the entry way at 1750 Washington Street and new flashing lights in school zones.

Selectmen reviewed a new mission statement from the Community Farm Advisory Committee. The original mission of the group was to provide a RFP (request for proposal) from interested parties such as an organization or individual to run 32.2 acre farm which was purchased by the town from the Serocki family. Selectmen gave the Advisory Board high marks for recent work at the farm and approved the new mission statement which will have the group run the farm. The RFP requirement was dropped and the committee will have to give timely updates to selectmen.

Town Administrator Jeff Ritter said a vacancy stills exists on the town's housing authority and anyone interested may contact the selecmen's office. Ritter noted that 21 contractors have now shown interest in replacing the $30,000 town hall doors. Ritter has extended the period contractors may express interest in the job till January 4th.

Selectmen rehashed the subject of guideline figures the finance committee has suggested for the ensuing 2018/19 budget. The finance committee has suggested a 1.5% increase in budgets and a 1% increase in wages. At a previous meeting Town Administrator suggested a 2% increase for town employees who are not governed by collective bargaining. The board split on a vote, Conley and Ahronian voting for the 2% increase citing an improved economy and Marsden voting against wishing to hold off another year citing sustainability.

 

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Comments (1)

Just to be clear about the Fincom guideline: The 1% wage adjustment is the *in-budget* piece. The Fincom is going to be providing another piece *outside of the budgets* later in the process. This was part of the debate when the guideline was voted at the Fincom meeting on 11/28--with the Town Administrator in attendance. This was repeated to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting on 12/4. Both you and the Town Administrator were in attendance at that meeting and heard a detailed explanation of this. It was repeated again to the BoS and the Town Administrator at their meeting on 12/12. The Town Administrator has the Fincom budget package where this is also made clear (see below). There has never been any ambiguity from the Fincom that this was the plan and I don't know why some members of the BoS and Town Administrator keep bringing up the issue as though 1% is the final number. Here is the exact text that was sent out by me (on behalf of the Fincom) with the budget preparation package: "You will note that for purposes of budget preparation we are asking departments to use a 1% wage guideline and a 1.5% bottom line guideline. I am obviously aware that this will cause some consternation, but department heads need to understand a change we are looking at for FY19 and that 1% is only for budget preparation purposes. For FY19 the Fincom is going to provide a separate amount for wage increases outside of the individual budgets. The amount will not be determined until later in the process when we have more accurate data. We are moving in this direction for a number of reasons, one of which is that we realize that wage pressures in budgets have often caused non-wage parts of budgets to suffer. We intentionally wanted to give departments a little 'headroom' on the bottom line for FY19 by having an in-budget wage guideline that is lower than the overall guideline, partly to see how departments would apply the funds (restorations, new initiatives, etc)." It's important for everyone to know the whole story since some members of the town's executive branch apparently believe that the final wage increase is 1% when in fact we are nowhere near knowing the final number at this time.

- Kenneth Szajda | 12/19/17 11:35 AM

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