By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
More budget discussions ensued at the Acushnet Selectboard meeting on Tuesday, 3/3/20.
The board heard from Principal Assessor Kelly Koska, who stated that her salary budget increased due to Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increases. Her highest increase was in the Management Consultant line item from $5,000 to $12,500 for the software company, Patriot Properties, to appraise and enter the data in the system for 500 parcels a year.
Ms. Koska explained that in the past she would hire independent appraisers to evaluate the parcels and then she or town staff would have to enter all the data. The contract with Patriot Properties would be a better use of time and money, she said.
Ms. Koska also submitted an Article for Town Meeting in the amount of $20,000 to hire an appraiser to appraise commercial parcels. She said it would be approximately seven different parcels.
She also discussed an Article that she was submitting in order to charge for a certified abutters list for residents who require it. She said that she and Town Administrator Julie Hebert were looking into this article to see if it was a general by-law they had to write or how they would be submitting it. Ms. Koska said she would like to charge a $25 fee for a certified abutters notice.
Lastly, Ms. Koska discussed an article she was submitting to purchase an electronic tool either through Patriot Properties or Mass GIS to accurately provide the certified abutters lists. She and the Board of Assessors will review their options before they submit the article.
Council on Aging Heather Sylvia also reviews her budget with the board. She stated she had increased salaries with the 2% COLA.
Ms. Sylvia was also asking for the position “Outreach Coordinator” position to be increased at an additional twelve hours per week, for a total increase of $9,396. Ms. Sylvia said the current outreach coordinator works under a grant for 19 hours weekly and is very much needed more often. She said she would like to see the town be able to fund the additional hours; and she stated that the current outreach coordinator would not need benefits, thus saving the Town financially when she does go full-time.
The Selectboard also heard from Police Chief Christopher Richmond, who showed budget increasing for clothing allowances for dispatchers and patrol officers. He is was also looking to upgrade software.
Chief Richmond stated he would be submitting an Article to Town Meeting for $106,000 to purchase new portable radios and car radios. He said that they were trying to improve radio frequency with neighboring Towns to all be on the same network.
The Selectboard also heard from Kathy Silvia of the Department of Public Works on information she has gathered for the townwide bulky item pickup.
Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar stated it was something the Selectboard was asked about at the previous Town Meeting repeatedly and they agreed to provide this service to residents.
Ms. Silvia stated she was in touch with Waste Management and they stated they would only pick up three items from residents at a rate of $28 per item.
“This is pretty aggravating,” Mr. Gaspar stated. “That plan obviously doesn’t work with 4,000 homes in Acushnet; we are looking at over $200,000 for bulky item pick up day.”
Ms. Silvia stated she spoke to Department of Public Works Director Dan Menard and he offered to do it with his crew of nine, the first three Saturdays in May. She said that the Selectboard would definitely have to put a 2-3 piece limit per household.
Selectboard Chairperson Roger Cabral asked Ms. Silvia to write up a proposal to the Selectboard for their next meeting.
In other business, the Selectboard heard from Andrew Bernstein of Kearsarge PPA, who explained that Kearsarge owned a parcel of solar arrays on Middle Road and was there to offer the Selectboard the opportunity to purchase kilowatts from them at a discounted rate.
Mr. Cabral said he thought it was a good idea but wanted more information.
“I need a flow chart,” he said.
Mr. Bernstein will work with Building Inspector James Marot to put together a visual for the Selectboard.
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