The Plympton Board of Selectmen met Monday, Jan. 30, and much of the meeting was spent discussing the ongoing issues with reporting hours for the Assistant Assessor position.
Members of the Wage and Personnel Board and the Board of Assessors attended and debated the merits of whether or not Principal Assessor Deborah Stuart should be paid as an hourly or salaried position. Currently, Stuart is paid a salary.
Barbara Gomez, Town Accountant, expressed concern that Stuart’s personal payroll reporting is not compliant with town and state protocol. She says that the Principal Assessor’s hours haven’t been reported on the payroll since June 30, 2016.
Deborah Stuart is a state retiree. Gomez said, “Chapter 32 Section 91 (M.G.L.) says a state retiree cannot work more than 960 hours per year.” The Board of Assessors wants the Principal Assessor position to be paid hourly rather than as a salary because it avoids this problem.
Assessors Chairman Ethan Stiles attended and asked for the position to stay as salaried. He believes it makes sense for certain jobs to be paid on an hourly basis, such as an attorney, as he himself would, but contends there’s a certain expectation with other positions. Stiles says, “When we’re dealing with department heads and supervisors and other persons with substantial discretion and authority, at that point salary is important. The way these people are paid is important.”
The Board of Selectmen were generally in agreement with the Wage and Personnel Board. Selectman John Traynor said, “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just do it hourly; it would clear the whole thing up.”
Overall, the Board believed going to hourly makes staying compliant with the hour requirement much easier. The Wage and Personnel Board also believes this was the best way to make sure Stuart is getting properly paid for the hours she works.”
The issue is still not officially resolved. The position looks like it will switch to hourly, with all members of the Board of Selectmen in favor. This may not be resolved before the annual town meeting.
There was also an update on the paramedic shortage and the possibility of Plympton losing their advanced life support license. The Board of Selectmen is taking the issue seriously. Selectman Traynor said, “The town doesn’t deserve to fall to basic (life support).”
Options are being explored including the fact that Halifax and Carver have reached out to potentially offer assistance. This option is in the exploratory stage though and is not imminent. The Board is working with the Finance Committee as well as Wage and Personnel to find the most practical option to ensure Plympton’s ambulance services do not drop to basic life support.
The Board also addressed safety concerns over the wooden bridge at Winnetuxet Road. Highway Surveyor Jim Mulcahy said that the bridge is in need of repairs with two columns underneath needing replacement.
Currently, there are temporary bracings and a weight limit on the bridge in order for it to be safe. Mulcahy proposed putting up a temporary no trucks sign for the time being.
Board Chairwoman Colleen Thompson asked for some clarification. She asks, “When you say truck you mean large, commercial trucks, not a pickup truck?” Mulcahy clarified that that was what he was referring to. He also said there are alternative routes for trucks to take. The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to put up the temporary signs.
Selectmen also announced that the Town House panic buttons will be fully installed soon. They said that Police Chief Patrick Dillon said they should be fully installed throughout the building in about three weeks. The police department is also working on getting the library coverage as well.
Jane, a resident of the town attended the Board of Selectmen’s meeting where the Board heard of her dog being attacked. A 40 pound Staffordshire attacked her 70 pound Chocolate Lab.
The owner said that although there was a significant weight difference, the Staffordshire was strong, aggressive, vicious, and very muscular for its size. The attacking dog was unleashed and at first came over in a friendly manner before attacking her dog’s throat.
Currently, that Staffordshire is under a 14 day restraining order, which means the dog cannot leave the owner’s house, or a fenced in yard unless on a leash. The Board of Selectmen will hold an investigative hearing at the Selectmen’s meeting on February 13, 2017.
The Board will next meet Monday, Feb. 6.