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Cheshire Town Meeting Approves All Warrant Articles

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — All four warrant articles were approved at Monday's special town meeting, appropriating more than $200,000 for building maintenance and stabilization.

About 30 voters were present for the meeting, which was held in the former Cheshire School's cafeteria. Selectman Shawn McGrath opened the meeting by explaining the town's revenue is slightly higher than expected, allowing for extra money allocation.

"We had excess revenues that have exceeded what we originally started with in the budgeting process," he said. "But this is not in any way shape or form an increase to proposition two-and-a-half or anything like that. It's allocating those excess funds into what we would refer as far as line items budgets."

Article 4 appropriates $92,000 to fund the town's stabilization account. Prior to the approval of the article, the account had just over $450,000 in it.

Finance Committee Chair John Tremblay explained that this appropriation could go towards a number of town building projects. The committee went on a tour of facilities needing repairs last week.

"Basically, we're playing catch up, as you guys know, in a lot of these areas," he said. "We funded equipment over the years, but really didn't repair our buildings in the ways that we probably should have. So we're basically catching up right now, and putting money into stabilization allows us to fund them on a pay as you go basis and not taking loans for things."

Article 1 raises $25,000 to replace the heating system in the cafeteria in the school building.

Selectmen Chair Michelle Francesconi said the current heating system is inefficient and outdated. She said the wider building's heating system is one of the projects that stabilization could help fund.

"The remaining elbow of this building is heated very inefficiently right now and needs to have significant work done to it," she said.

Article 2 allocates $70,000 for heating repairs to the fire station. An assessment of the fire station estimated that repairs to the entire building would cost about $1.3 million.

Article 3 appropriates $13,203 to fund the facilities manager position for increased hours, up to 35 from 24. Town Moderator Carol Francesconi clarified that the appropriation is for the extra hours, not the entire salary.

Tags: special town meeting,   

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North County Communities Close to Hiring Shared HR Director

By Brian Rhodes

ADAMS, Mass. — The town is close to picking a candidate for a grant-funded human resources director, which will split time between Adams, North Adams and Williamstown. 


The Board of Selectmen's Personnel Sub-committee met on Monday to discuss the position and several other personnel matters. In March, the three communities received a $100,000 grant from the state's Community Compact Cabinet Efficiency and Regionalization program to fund the position


Town Administrator Jay Green said two candidates were interviewed for the job, with expectations to make a formal offer to one of them soon, pending final approval from officials in North Adams. 


"It's going to be a large undertaking for whoever is in the job. But I think, at the end of the day, we will provide the communities with somebody paying attention to this stuff," Green said. "... I think a lot of the retention and recruitment issues; all three communities have those issues. So all three communities are looking forward to having the person to be able to work on that." 


Green said each of the three communities has specific needs that a human resources director will provide. For Adams, he explained that keeping the town's human resources policies up to date is a significant need. 


"This person will work for us directly, and they will be a resource for us," Green said. The three communities, he explained, have to keep the position funded until at least Fiscal Year 2024. 


In other business, the group discussed preliminary job descriptions for an assistant Treasurer/Collector and assistant Town Accountant. These positions would replace the current financial assistant titles and would be a title and job description change rather than a personnel change. 


"We have too many high-level people doing too low-level work because we're not staffed enough in that level," Green said, noting the town expects the title changes to be ready to begin the next fiscal year. "A lot of those positions have been eliminated over the years. The work doesn't go away, but the work just gets kicked up." 


Town Accountant Crystal Wojcik said the new titles would allow the people in those positions to have more training opportunities and take on more responsibilities for the town. One example she gave is a conference from the state's Municipal Accountants and Auditors Association, which Financial Assistant Ashley Satko cannot currently attend. 


"I can go to that, but Ashley can't because her title is not Assistant Town Accountant," she said. "You either have to be a Town Accountant or an Assistant Town Accountant. I believe the same rules go for the treasurer's association." 


Another new position the group discussed was assistant director of Community Development. Rebecca Furgeson, the current program manager for the department, would take on the new role. 


"[Rebecca] has a very unique skill set with project management that I can't replicate. And she has capacity to take on additional work," said Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin. "We've had incredibly good luck with grants over the past year. I think we've gotten basically everything we've apply for it, and so there's a need to have a good set of eyes and sound judgment in terms of managing those projects." 


The committee also discussed the part-time administrative assistant for Inspectional Services. Green said he is hopeful the position could eventually become full-time, but budget considerations do not currently allow it.  


  • The committee discussed a potential code of conduct for town employees and others involved in town business. Board Vice-chair Christine Hoyt said she researched conduct policies for other communities and wants to do more work to update those policies in Adams. 


"I'd like to explore this more and come forward with a code of conduct that is all-encompassing," she said. "... We hold our employees to a standard, but we haven't necessarily put a standard of conduct in place for elected officials for the public." 


Green said the current provisions for the town only apply to town employees, not elected or other officials.


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