By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on 2/9/21, the Acushnet Selectboard voted to suspend the “Remote Action Plan” and require employees to be back in their offices effective February 16.
“Covid is not going anywhere, we are going to have to learn to live with it,” said chairperson Kevin Gaspar.
He said he did not see any reason why employees could not be back in the office especially with the office protocols they have in place, such as sanitizing stations, plexi-glass, etc.
“It’s time to get our people back in the building,” Mr. Gaspar said.
Selectboard member David Desroches agreed, adding, “I think it’s time to suspend the remote action plan and have people back at work.”
Selectboard member David Wojnar also agreed, but suggested that they “give people time to acclimate.”
He asked that they consider the return date of February 22. However, Mr. Gaspar and Mr. Desroches did not agree. In the end the board voted unanimously for Tuesday, 2/16, as Monday, is a holiday.
The Selectboard also heard from consultant Don Jacobs to review the union wage and classification plan study.
Mr. Jacobs stated that the number one issue with classification studies is communication. He said it was important to hear the thoughts from the employees on what their job really entails. He stated he has asked employees to return a job description survey back to him within a week.
Mr. Jacobs did advise the Selectboard that the first thought he had was that the job descriptions were not accurate, as they did not have enough information in them.
Mr. Gaspar stated that when comparing other towns to Acushnet he wanted to see more similar towns being used versus towns that did not even compare, “like the last study”, he stated.
Mr. Wojnar suggested considering a tier system of minimum qualifications and then how effectively an employee does the job.
“A tier system would recognize achievement and professional growth,” Mr. Wojnar said.
The Selectboard agreed to continue the conversation at another meeting.
The board also briefly discussed holding a separate meeting to start discussions on the budget.
Mr. Gaspar stated they need to look at anticipated revenue and anticipated expenses to start the review process.
In other business, the Selectboard approved a Victualer license for Acushnet Coffee on Main Street.
They also accepted a $700 in-kind donation from a couple of Acushnet residents for the Fire/EMS; and thanked those who made the donations.
Town Administrator Julie Hebert, in her report to the board, commended the FIRE/EMS department for their tremendous effort with COVID-19 testing. She read a memo from Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher who stated they have administered 5,069 nasal swab tests since September. Ms. Hebert stated they are looking into being able to administer vaccinations.
Mr. Gaspar said he wanted to make sure that Acushnet would not be held liable if they give vaccinations.
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