By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
It’s budget time, and the Acushnet Selectboard heard from department heads about their FY21 budgets at their meeting on Tuesday, 2/25/20.
David Flynn from the Golf Advisory Board stated they still had $100,000 in reserves with no intention of spending it. He said they increased salaries across the board by two percent, and his expense categories were mostly level funded. He stated there was a net change of $1,000 in the long term debt, for a 2.2% increase.
Board member Kevin Gaspar asked when the golf course is closed.
Mr. Flynn stated it was closed mid December to mid March, depending, of course, on the weather. He said that as of December 31 they were $65,000 ahead of their yearly projections.
The board then discussed the Board of Health budget. Health Agent Joe Correia was not present.
Mr. Gaspar jumped right in discussing Mr. Correia’s salary, saying he was concerned about the salary that Mr. Correia put down for himself as he did the math that it was incorrect. Mr. Gaspar stated that what the contract says he will receive is different that what Mr. Correia has put in his budget.
Town Administrator Julie Hebert stated that because it is a leap year, there are 52.4 weeks this year. Well, actually it is 52.486, to be exact.
Ms. Hebert explained that they budget enough money to cover salaries, not necessarily the amount that the person receives. Ms. Hebert also explained that the wage and classification charts were built on a “flat 52 work week” and that yearly the work week is never a flat 52 weeks.
Mr. Gaspar stated he has done the math several times and the figure of $67,881 is more than Mr.Correia should be receiving. He asked Ms. Hebert to look into each salary individually.
Mr. Gaspar also had concerns on the part-time health inspector the Board of Health is planning to hire, and the wage they were advertising. He asked for a more in depth explanation of where the monies were coming from, because, as he remembered it, only $15,000 was coming from an article to pay for the position.
Mr. Gaspar also questioned why the description of the part time agent read that the person would be responsible for Title V inspections and more, when Mr. Correia had stated the position was for PJ Keating “boots on the ground” project.
“I just want to be sure what we are saying at the public hearing for PJ Keating, we are actually doing,” Mr. Gaspar said.
Ms. Hebert explained that the primary function of the part-time health inspector would be for the PJ Keating project, however on their off season, it would be to assist with Title V inspections and other regular Board of Health inspections.
Building Commissioner im Marot also presented his budget to board. He stated that he kept everything under two percent, and the only difference was longevity that was triggered for his two employees, who will receive longevity after five years. Mr. Marot’s budget also included the building and maintenance part of the different departments, which was a new item for him.
In other business, the Selectboard had a public meeting with Jeff Blake from KP Law regarding the PJ Keating project. Mr. Blake stated he was there to advise the Selectboard on how they can move forward on the storage tank license.
He said there were three options the Selectboard could take, one was to grant the permit, second was to grant the permit with conditions and third was to deny the permit. He cautioned that the Selectboard would need to have a rational purpose to do option two or three.
“You got to have a basis,” Mr. Blake said, adding that the basis could be the welfare of neighbors, noise, traffic, explosive and flammable hazardous materials.
Mr. Blake said the next step was to continue the hearing that was held on 2/11/20, and move forward from there. The date of the continuance is Tuesday, March 24.
Mr. Blake told the Board they can deliberate on what they want to do, but it as to be done publicly at that hearing, not at one of their regularly scheduled board meetings.
Chairperson Roger Cabral stated that the PJ Keating public hearing on 2/11, was a “bit disturbing” to him. He said he got involved with the Selectboard two and half years ago and attended public hearings back then regarding PJ Keating, and he felt that the neighbors are still complaining about the same things and still not getting any resolution.
Mr. Cabral said that the neighbors complained about the sound of trucks backing up in the middle of the night and the “beep beep” noise that kept them awake; and the company had responded that was something simple they could correct.
“Well it’s two and half years later, and we have the neighborhood still complaining about the back-up noises in the middle of the night,” Mr. Cabral said. “I think PJ Keating has a right to do their business on their property; just as Acushnet and Fairhaven residents have that right to live their lives without a disturbance of PJ Keating.”
PJ Keating representative, Doug Vigno was present, and when Mr. Cabral asked if he wanted to say anything, he said, “No thank you.”
Mr. Cabral said, “PJ Keating needs to be a better neighbor.”
Mr. Cabral also mentioned that he attended the community forum at the North Fairhaven Improvement Association last week and there were a lot of Fairhaven neighbors who complained about the same things that Acushnet was concerned about. He said for them it was the big trucks going down Main Street at all hours. He said the volume of trucks is out of control.
Mr. Gaspar asked Mr. Vigno if he could ask him a question.
“You can ask,” Mr. Vigno said.
“Why didn’t PJ Keating come to the Board of Selectmen before they moved their asphalt building to the forefront of the property,” asked Mr. Gaspar.
Mr. Vigno said that he wasn’t working there at the time of that move.
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