By Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Tuesday, 10/26/21, the Acushnet Selectboard discussed the retirement of the Treasurer/Collector Catherine Muller, finalized the plan for the assessment center for the Fire Department, and briefly discussed meeting with a consulting company about ARPA money.
Chairperson David Desroches started the meeting by announcing the retirement of Ms. Muller, effective December 31, 2021. Mr. Desroches said Ms. Muller stated in her letter how much she enjoyed working for the town and with such great employees, but she needs to focus on her family at this time.
Ms. Muller also wrote that she would love to help prepare her successor for the job and help with a smooth transition.
Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar said Ms. Muller was a great employee and she will be missed.
Selectboard member David Wojnar said that he wanted to thank Ms. Muller for taking on such a large project by changing over the billing system to Invoice Cloud before her retirement. Mr. Wojnar said he was thankful to her for completing that project.
Town Administrator Julie Hebert told the board they should be able to post the job soon because the job description is the same and they just have to update the salary. She said it will be posted as soon as possible.
The board voted unanimously to post the job.
In another matter the board discussed the Fire Department Assessment Center. Mr. Desroches explained that Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher would be resigning and they will need the assessment center to have the exam for candidates for Fire Chief and Fire Captain.
There is a 50-question exam and candidates will be testing for both jobs that way there is a larger list of candidates for both positions.
Mr. Desroches said the cost of the assessment center/exam is around $8,889 and the Fire Department has a budget of $4,000. The Fire Department is asking the Selectboard to appropriate the rest of the money.
Mr. Desroches said that Chief Gallagher said the next steps are to develop job postings for both positions and decide on the weight/ percentages for each qualifier. For example how much percentage for written score, assessment score, education, and experience.
The board voted unanimously to appropriate the additional $4,889.
The board also discussed hiring a consulting company to help manage money that the town has been granted from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Ms. Hebert said they have $3 million to use, but it has many deadlines and has to be used for particular work. She said 2024 is the deadline to spend the money, but it takes a lot of time and planning.
Ms. Hebert said they could use the money for water infrastructure.
She said she met with Capital Strategic Solutions, a consulting company, and they have a lot of experience with projects like this.
Ms. Hebert said she really liked them and would love to have the board meet with the company and see what they have done for other towns, and have them explain what they could do for Acushnet.
Ms. Hebert said the company would make sure the ARPA money is handled correctly and that all the deadlines are met. The company’s fees would also be covered by ARPA.
Mr. Gaspar expressed concerns about where the $3 million is. He said he does not want to mislead town residents that the town has $3 million if they do not. They have to have a serious discussion about how to use the money.
Mr. Gaspar said water infrastructure is something that needs to get done, and he wants to allocate the money as best as they can.
Ms. Hebert explained that the ARPA money comes from two different places. They are getting around $2 million from the county and around $1.1 million federally.
She said they already have about $500,000 and will get the rest of the $1.1 million in the summer. They may not get the $2 million from the county until they do they work.
Ms. Hebert said if they do not use it they will lose it.
Mr. Gaspar said it could be a good thing to bring in the consulting company and talk with them and see how they can help.
Mr. Wojnar said it would be a great idea to talk with the consultants.
The board voted unanimously to invite the consulting company Capital Strategic Solutions to a meeting.
Mr. Wojnar said he also wanted to make the board aware that they will be losing State Representative Chris Hendricks and will now have two State Representatives that will split the town, William Straus and Paul Schmid.
Mr. Wojnar said that he thinks they should ask Mr. Hendricks if he can set up the Selectboard to meet the two new representatives, that way they can have a good and helpful relationship with them.
The board voted unanimously to ask Rep. Hendricks to set up a meeting with the board and Rep. Straus and Rep. Schmid.
In another matter the board received a letter from the Planning Board about holding a joint meeting to fill the vacancy left by Philip Mello’s passing.
Mr. Desroches said he gives his condolences to the family. So far they have received two letters of interest for the vacancy.
The board voted to hold a joint meeting with the Planning Board.
Mr. Gaspar announced that they would still be accepting letters of interest until the next meeting on 11/9.
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