The Plympton Board of Selectmen met virtually on Monday, March 15. The Selectmen met with Michael Mahoney the Director of the Regional Old Colony Communications Center (ROCCC) to discuss a $50,000 increase for services for fiscal year 2023. Selectman Mark Russo said they did have a bit of sticker shock as they were originally told that they would be at $175,000 and not $200,000 with the potential for that to reduce should other towns join. “The three-year step plan that we laid out went $100, $150, $200… I’m honestly not sure where the shock is,” Mahoney said. Fire Chief Steve Silva said he agreed with Russo saying that both Hanson and Hanover have joined the ROCCC without a reduction seen to Plympton’s share of the cost.
“Plympton wasn’t paying an equitable share all along,” Mahoney said explaining that 911 was paying their share previously. Mahoney further said that all of the smaller towns that are a part of the ROCC are paying $200,000 including Halifax and Rochester. Silva questioned this given Plympton’s population of just under 3,000 as opposed to Halifax who is more than twice as large. Mahoney claimed that the call volume for Plympton has been larger than Halifax’s over the last six months. Silva said that the metric used to indicate call volume was resulting in “an inequitable situation.” “You pay for the impact on the dispatcher,” Mahoney said.
According to Mahoney, 911 calls represent the vast minority of calls to the ROCCC. He said that business related calls represent more of the calls fielded. John Traynor asked Mahoney for assistance in figuring out what is driving Plympton’s call volume to match or exceed that of the much larger towns. Chair of the Town Properties Committee Jon Wilhelmsen said that further investigation needs to be done into what is driving Plympton’s high call volume to see if there may be an alternative way to handle some of those calls. Mahoney said that he was happy to pull some numbers and review them further with the town.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy asked what will happen if the town can’t afford the $50,000 increase for fy 2023 given the short notice and how far along they are in the budget process. She asked if they would need to approach the State and Mahoney said, “we’ve done anything and everything to secure support in grant funding as much as we possibly can for all of the member towns.” Mahoney said he would stand with the town before the 911 Commissioner to lobby for more money if needed.
Traynor led a discussion with Executive Director of Area 58 Richard Goulart about moving forward with a hybrid style meeting where participants could join virtually via ZOOM while others were physically present in a meeting room. Goulart said that both Carver and Halifax are currently doing a hybrid style meeting. To do so and to allow Area 58 to record the meeting, they would have to be the ones to host the meeting. Dennehy felt that having Area 58 host the meeting could pose a problem if the town needed to organize a meeting quickly. “I think it could work very well for regular meetings,” she added. Dennehy also said that if they moved to hybrid meetings and there was a technology glitch, the meeting would be invalidated. Russo inquired about the sound quality. “Generally speaking, we haven’t had a real problem with that,” Goulart said.
The Selectmen had two public hearings on the agenda. Selectmen Chair Christine Joy said that in 2018, the town adopted a policy of right of first refusal for full transparency whenever land became available in the town. This allows residents that have concerns to voice them as well as allowing interested committees or boards in town that have interest in the property to speak on it. The first property was located on Ring Rd. in Plympton. Kirsten Eliassen who works with the developer Ring Rd. Solar was there to speak on it. “The solar array will be installed over the existing cranberry bogs and the cranberry bogs will continue to be harvested for the life of the project,” Eliassen explained. There are 14.6 acres on the first parcel and there are 5-6 acres to be converted. No one spoke out in favor of or against the project. The Selectmen voted not to exercise the town’s right of first refusal on the first property.
The second parcel is 41 acres, and they are proposing to convert between 8 and 9 acres. Again, no one spoke out in favor or against the project and no boards or committees in town were interested in the property. The Selectmen again voted not to exercise the town’s right of first refusal.
Mike Slawson of the Plympton Public Library spoke in favor of Jessica Lau being appointed to the Board of Library Trustees until May 21, 2022. “I think she’ll be an excellent addition to the Board,” Slawson told the Selectmen. They voted to appoint her. Arthur Kinsman was also appointed to the Bylaw Review Committee until dissolved. Brian Kling was also reappointed as the town’s animal inspector.
Dennehy said she had a few items in correspondence. A request was made by a resident who runs a meditation group called Plymouth Zen to use a room at the Old Townhouse. Russo called Plymouth Zen a “very nice bunch.” He did say, however, that he wanted to be careful not to set a precedent and to view any approval more so as a trial. The Selectmen decided to vote on the issue at the following meeting.
The Selectmen ended the meeting with their raves. Traynor said, “My rave is for Kathy LaNatra.” He said the library was hosting a speaker series each month and noted that LaNatra has done a good job any time she has been asked to speak. “We have a good rep,” he said.
“My rave is for the courage of the Ukrainian people who are defending their country, their homes, and their lives,” Joy said.
Russo said he wanted to underscore both of the previous raves in addition to his own. “My rave is for the time of year that its budget creation time, preparing for town meeting – kind of a busy time but we kind of layout the foundation for the whole year… kind of a pleasure to be in that mode,” he said.