By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 5/1 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed a sewer blockage at 39 Laurel Street and discussed the verbiage of the Human Resources job description that Town Administrator, Mark Rees had previously distributed to the BPW for their approval of the new position.
The BPW first met with Tom and Marcia Caron of 39 Laurel Street about a sewer blockage on their property. Ms. Caron explained to the board that she and her husband had previously met with BPW Superintendent Vincent Furtado and BPW Chairperson Mike Ristuccia about the sewer blockage. Ms. Caron told the board that she has heard conflicting stories about whether or not the blockage was her and her husband’s responsibility or the responsibility of the town.
She said that when she spoke with Mr. Furtado and Mr. Ristuccia, Mr. Furtado told her that if the blockage was in the street it would the responsibility of the town to fix it. Ms. Caron said that the sewer blockage is two feet into the street, but now the BPW is saying that it is the Caron’s responsibility.
Mr. Furtado explained to Ms. Caron that the blockage is the town’s responsibility only if it has blocked the main sewer line in the street. Mr. Furtado explained that every resident owns their own pipe, which goes from the house, through the private property, and into the middle of the street where it meets the main line.
“I can see how it could be confusing when I said in the street,” Mr. Furtado said.
He told Ms. Caron that although the blockage is in the street it is still in the resident’s private line, so it is not the town’s responsibility.
Ms. Caron asked the board if it is her responsibility to pay for any issues that her sewer line has.
BPW member, Brian Wotton explained that, yes, all residents own their sewer line from their house all the way to the middle of the street, until the line connects to the town’s main sewer line. He explained to Mr. and Ms. Caron that the blockage is trapped in their line because a flapper valve broke off from their property and went through their private sewer line, but it did not reach the town’s main line.
Mr. Wotton said that if Ms. Caron could put her frustrations aside and listen to the board there may be a way that the BPW can help and save the Carons some money.
He said it cannot be done for free because then everyone in town would expect the BPW to fix their problems for free.
But, said Mr. Wotton, “I think we can save you a substantial amount of money.”
He recommended that the BPW calculate what the cost would be for the town sewer employees to fix it.
“I hope this is a resolution and I hope it helps you,” Mr. Wotton said.
“Thank you for helping out,” Ms. Caron said “I am just overwhelmed with the whole thing.”
“We will try to do it the cheapest way we can,” Mr. Furtado said.
Mr. Wotton made a motion for Mr. Furtado to get a price for the Carons, and then they can decide what they would like to do. The motion passed unanimously.
In another matter the BPW reopened the discussion about the new townwide Human Resources job position. At the past few BPW meetings the board has met with Town Administrator, Mark Rees about hiring an HR Director for the town. Mr. Rees told the board previously that the HR employee would assist the Selectboard, Fire and Police Departments, and could also help the BPW. Mr. Rees also explained to the board that the cost, as well as the hours of the HR Director would be split among the boards/departments.
The BPW’s concerns about the HR position were the cost, as well as making sure that the HR employee was only an advisor to the BPW, specifically when involved with hiring and firing of employees.
At Monday’s meeting the BPW discussed the HR job description that Mr. Rees had distributed to the board previously.
Mr. Furtado told the board that after reading through the document, the job descriptions and duties of the employee are all accurate. He said the only thing he would like to add at the end of the job description is the words “act as advisor.”
Mr. Furtado said he would just like to make it clear in the job description that all duties of the job will be completely advisory to the BPW and that the BPW has the final authority.
Mr. Hobson addressed some concerns about the HR Director’s authority when it comes to the hiring of employees. He said that if the HR employee is going to screen the applicants he is worried that not all the applicants will be brought in front of the BPW. He explained if there were 20 applicants and the HR employee screened all 20 and then only brought five of the applicants in front of the board that would be an issue with him.
“I don’t want that,” Mr. Hobson said.
“I support what you’re saying 100%,” board member, Cameron Durant said.
Mr. Ristuccia said that he is not comfortable with the first paragraph of the job summary. Mr. Ristuccia explained that he thinks there should be two paragraphs, one for the other boards/departments and then a separate paragraph for the BPW. Mr. Ristuccia said that the document should say “in regards to the BPW the HR position will be an advisor.”
Mr. Furtado explained that the HR position does not need to be voted on for awhile because it will not come into play until fiscal year 2019. Mr. Furtado said that Mr. Rees just wants the BPW to support the HR position publicly at Town Meeting on Saturday.
Mr. Ristuccia that the BPW can clarify at town meeting and note that only with the job description document written properly, will the BPW will support the HR job.
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