By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 4/22/19, the Fairhaven Selectboard discussed the appointment of members to committees, the upcoming Town Meeting and the town employee health benefits policy for part-timers.
Board member Robert Espindola told the board that the Economic Development Committee met last week and the new Planning Director, Paul Foley, attended the meeting. Mr. Espindola said that Mr. Foley offered a lot of insight and was very helpful.
Mr. Espindola also announced that the next Dog Park Committee meeting would be on May 7 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. He said committee members wanted to make sure the public is aware of the meeting so more residents can attend and give their opinions on locations for a dog park.
The board also appointed Mr. Espindola to the South Coast Bikeway Alliance. Mr. Espindola recused himself from the discussion. In his letter of interest to be a formal member on the SCBA he stated that he has been an informal member for some time. He explained in his letter that the SCBA is looking for funding for a feasibility study to create a bike trail connecting Fall River, Westport, Dartmouth, and New Bedford.
He also stated that to help get the funding, the neighboring cities and towns would like to see a Selectboard member from each town on the SCBA for support, and he would like to be that member.
The board also discussed and voted on the policy on health insurance for elected officials.
Town Administrator Mark Rees said that the new policy will state that there will be no health insurance for part-time town employees unless the current employee is already using the insurance, in which case he or she will be allowed to keep it.
Mr. Espindola explained that he agreed with the policy, but he said it should be that all current employees are grandfathered into the health insurance, whether they are using it or not, in case they need the insurance in the future.
A motion was made to approve the amended policy eliminating health insurance from part-time employees, but allowing all current employees to be grandfathered in.
The motion passed unanimously with Mr. Murphy abstaining because he currently uses the town health insurance.
The board also discussed a few remaining articles for Town Meeting.
Mr. Rees stated that money for Article 5 needed to be added, to pay out the rest of the retiring Town Clerk’s vacation and sick time, which would be $14,000.
The board voted to add the money.
The board also voted to support roadwork for Billy’s Way for $60,445, Fir Street for $96,185, and Brown Street for $193,370.
Mr. Murphy also explained that the annual Town meeting will be on May 4 and the Selectboard will meet right before it to discuss final votes.
The board had a bit of a discussion about appointing one full member and one associate member to the Sustainability Committee.
The board received two letters of interest, one from Denise Barr and one from Karen Gent, both of whom were interested.
Mr. Murphy informed the board that Ms. Barr’s letter was submitted first. Mr. Murphy also read a letter of recommendation from Sustainability Coordinator Whitney McClees, suggesting that the board appoint Ms. Gent to the Sustainability Committee full-time because she has been attending all the meetings.
Mr. Espindola explained that normally he would agree to appoint Ms. Barr because her letter of interest was received first, but because of Ms. McClees’s recommendation Mr. Espindola believed they should appoint Ms. Gent as the full member.
Board member Daniel Freitas disagreed explaining that they should appoint Ms. Barr as the full member because her letter of interest was received first.
Mr. Murphy agreed stating that he believes that they should go with their usual policy of appointing the person who shows interest first.
Mr. Freitas made the motion to appoint Ms. Barr as the full member and Ms. Gent as the alternate member.
The motion passed 2 to 1 with Mr. Espindola voting against the motion.
The board also discussed the electricity aggregation agreement and some confusion by residents who have received letters.
The town entered into the program with a group of other towns three years ago to be able to negotiate electricity rates for residents.
Residents who have questions about the program or why they received letters, should call Mass. CEA (Community Electric Aggregation) 844-627-7232, or visit www. masscea.com
In another matter, the board voted to approve “no parking” signs on Reynolds Drive.
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