By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At their meeting on Monday 4/8/19 Fairhaven Selectboard members discussed the appointment of some committee members, as well as compensation issues regarding the Wellness Committee.
Before starting their appointments the members reorganized the board after the election. Daniel Freitas, who was chairperson, nominated Charles K. Murphy, Sr., for chairperson, and Robert Espindola seconded.
“You have the power now,” Mr. Freitas said handing over the gavel.
The board also voted to make Mr. Espindola the Vice-Chairperson and Mr. Freitas clerk.
Towards the end of the meeting, Mr. Freitas addressed the board stating that he wanted to discuss an issue regarding the Wellness Committee charge.
He explained that he had no idea that the WC members receive comp time for their volunteer work on the committee. He said he believed it was the only committee that gets comp time for volunteering and that he did not know how it got past him when the committee’s charge was created.
“It’s not fair to the other committees,” Mr. Freitas said, adding that he would like to see the minutes from the Wellness Committee meetings because he looked online and there were no meeting minutes for six to eight months.
Mr. Freitas also explained that six or seven of the nine committee members are from Town Hall. He questioned if that creates a coverage issue when they all leave work for an hour for the committee meeting. He said he believed that there should be fairness for all the committees.
Mr. Espindola said he understood what Mr. Freitas was saying, but added that he has been with the WC since it started and it has been positive in the community.
Mr. Espindola said it is different than other committees because it is made up of entirely of town employees who volunteer, and it has the goals to financially help the town.
He said that the private company he works for invests a lot into wellness programs because they have so many benefits. He said some communities hire people to fill the role that the volunteers in Fairhaven do. He also said that the health, wellness, and financial benefits of the WC take time to achieve.
Mr. Espindola explained that no one was receiving overtime and no one was getting compensated; volunteers are simply taking an hour out of their work day to go to WC meetings.
Mr. Espindola said he has not heard of any coverage issues at Town Hall due to the committee schedule and has not heard about any financial issues, either.
“I support the people who volunteer to do this,” Mr. Espindola said.
Mr. Freitas said he agreed that the committee does a fantastic job, but by having an hour of paid work when they are not working makes the comp time costly.
He explained that the volunteers are being paid through their regular jobs for the hour that they attend the WCs meeting.
“I’m not going to fight about it,” Mr. Freitas said. “I just want to address it and make my motion….if it happens it happens.”
Mr. Espindola asked Town Administrator Mark. Rees if the expenses go down. He answered that work productivity goes down.
Human Resource Director, Anne O’Brien explained that there is a loss of office coverage no matter what if there is a Wellness Committee meeting. She said that some communities close their offices for an hour during the day to conduct their wellness meetings.
She said it is more controlled that way.
Mr. Freitas asked Ms. O’Brien if there are any other committees that use comp time.
Ms. O’Brien said that, arguably, the Wellness Committee could help the town with expenses/financially.
Mr. Freitas stated that the question was whether or not there were any other committees using comp time.
Ms.O’Brien said no there were not.
Mr. Freitas made a motion to get rid of the comp time for the Wellness Committee members. The motion was not seconded and therefore died.
Mr. Freitas had one more issue he wanted to address before the meeting adjourned, something that came up during the election. He said a lot of issues were brought to his attention, mostly regarding problems at Town Hall.
Mr. Freitas said there have been rumors that there is a hit list for being fired in the town and that people should not have worry if they still have a job every day.
Mr. Rees said that he wished he would have known that Mr. Freitas was going to bring up the allegations, as he would have put it on the agenda.
“I would like to be given the opportunity to hear what people are telling you,” Mr. Rees said. “It’s unfair to me.”
Mr. Freitas said he would love to sit and discuss everything with Mr. Rees.
Mr. Freitas said that he knows where the rumors are coming from and can back 95% of them up.
He said the rumors have nothing to do with Mr. Rees and are no fault of his and would like to sit down with him and talk about it.
“Play time’s over,” Mr. Freitas said. “Last year I let it go, but I am not doing it again.”
Mr. Murphy asked Ms. O’Brien if she would welcome town residents to discuss human resources information with her.
Ms. O’Brien said yes as long as it is not information about specific personnel because it could be private information.
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