By Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 12/14 the Selectboard met with the Fire Chief about the plan for the new assessment center, and with a consulting firm about plans on how to use the town’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money.
The board first announced two resignations. Chairperson David Desroches read the resignation letter from Building Inspector Jim Marot, who said his last day will be 1/21, and he will be taking a new position as Director of Inspectional Services in Mattapoisett. Mr. Marot said in his letter that he has loved working for the town and working with the Selectboard and that they have accomplished so much in the last 15 years.
Mr. Desroches said that whoever fills Mr. Marot’s position has huge shoes to fill and said it has been a pleasure to work with Mr. Marot.
Board members Kevin Gaspar and David Wojnar agreed and thanked Mr. Marot for his service to the town.
Mr. Desroches informed the board of another resignation from Tom DaCosta, the Deputy Inspector of Wires effective 12/31/21. The board thanked Mr. DaCosta for his time serving the town.
In another matter the board met with Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher about the plan for the assessment center and approval to post the job for Fire Chief.
Mr. Gallagher reminded the board that he would be retiring in September and that the plan for the assessment center is to help promote a person in the department with a seamless transition when he retires.
Mr. Gallagher explained that in about 90 days the written exam for the positions of Fire Captain and Fire Chief will begin at the assessment center..
The results from the written exam and scenario test will help determine the rankings of the candidates.
Mr. Gallagher said that ideally they would like to choose a candidate for the Fire Chief position by March or April that way the person can work alongside Mr. Gallagher, so that he will be able to mentor him or her. He said he would like to have a few months working with and focusing solely on mentoring the new Fire Chief to ensure a smooth transition.
Mr. Gallagher told the board that there are two candidates who are qualified and interested in the positions. To get the process started he needed the board’s approval to post the Fire Chief position.
The board voted unanimously to approve the job posting.
In another matter the board met with consulting company Capital Strategic Solutions about having their help to decide what to do with the town’s ARPA funds.
Jennifer Thompson from Capital Strategic Solutions (CSS) presented a slideshow on ways the company could help the town.
Ms. Thompson explained that they would help the town figure out what town projects are eligible to be done using ARPA funds.
Ms. Thompson said that the ARPA funds were given to local communities to help with recovery from Covid. She explained that eligible projects are public health projects, projects to help small businesses, households or nonprofits that had a negative impact from Covid, projects for essential works, or investment projects for sewer, water or broadband infrastructure.
The next steps would be for the Selectboard to have a list of some projects they would like to do and the company can help determine if they are eligible and which would benefit the town the most.
Mr. Gaspar asked how the company can ensure that they are not taking on too many towns. Mr. Gaspar said he does not want Acushnet to get lost in the mix of towns the company is working for.
Ms. Thompson said that as of right now the company is at 50%-60% capacity of the workload they can accept. She said the company would never take on more than they could handle.
Mr. Desroches said he would like to meet with the Finance Committee to hear their thoughts on what they would like to do with the ARPA funds before making any decisions.
He said he appreciated hearing from CSS and that the board will need some time to decide on how to proceed and that the board will let the company know soon if they would like to enlist their help.
At their meeting on 12/30, the board voted to hire CSS and sign the contract.
At that meeting the board also decided to promote Assistant Treasurer/Collector Jennifer Benfeito.
“We had a number of candidates apply for the position of treasure/ collector,” said Mr. Desroches. “The board has decided to promote from within.”
The board also tabled a number of items on the 12/30 agenda. Their next meeting is on 1/6, with a short agenda that includes discussing appointment of an interim town administrator.
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