By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
The Acushnet Selectboard honored the Standard Times’ Acushnet Man of the Year, Tom DeCosta at their meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. They presented him with a reprint of the article and thanked him for all he has done with putting together the Veterans Memorial Park.
Mr. DeCosta said many more people deserved the award than he did. He thanked the paper and the Selectboard for recognizing all the hard work that went into creating the park. He said he would still like to put up a storyboard or two at the park with all the sponsors that helped put it together and that by the end of the year there should be approximately six hundred memorial bricks with names of veterans, that are being sponsored daily by community members.
Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar told Mr. DeCosta he had a big heart and deserved many plaques. He thanked him for all his hard work in creating the park.
In other business, the Selectboard had a contentious discussion on the wage and classification sub-committee appointment that Mr. Cabral had included on the agenda.
Mr. Cabral explained that he felt the Wage & Classification Committee should a three person committee that could review some of the job classifications still in question and report their findings and recommendations back to the Selectboard.
Mr. Cabral suggested the committee be made up of Town Administrator Brian Noble, a Finance Committee Member, and a member of the Selectboard. He also stated that he was open to either one of the two Selectboard members being that third person, as it did not have to be him.
Board member David Desroches asked that if the Selectboard is in charge of tit now, why the sudden change to have a committee be in charge.
Mr. Cabral explained that the Selectboard received the wage and classification study back in early 2018 and the Selectboard sat on it for eight to nine months. He said it was then discussed in executive session, where the board members at that time could not come to an agreement about the study, so he and Mr. Noble went through the study completely and returned to the full Selectboard to make recommendations and certain wage and classifications were voted unanimously on. Mr. Cabral said that there were a few positions that still needed further review.
Mr. Gaspar said he had always been against the W&C study because he believes it to be “inaccurate.”
“The wage and classification study were all done without me being present, and I believe it is very inaccurate,” he said, adding that he did not think a subcommittee was necessary and he thought that they all needed to refine the inaccuracies in the report.
He said there were a lot of empty spaces in the report that compares Acushnet to other towns that are not comparable to Acushnet.
The conversation continued to go back and forth with Mr. Gaspar opposing the study and the subcommittee and Mr. Cabral in favor.
Mr. Desroches stated that he felt it was something that the Selectboard should be able to resolve together, or at least start at that point versus having a sub-committee.
“This is a political hot potato,” he said. “And I think we, as the Selectboard should be able to review it and improve on it together.”
He added that if they tried to work on it together and could not come to a compromise then he would be open to creating a sub-committee.
Mr. Cabral said he did not believe the task would be manageable in open session and that was why he suggested the sub-committee.
“We need to move this forward,” he said.
Again, Mr. Gaspar disagreed and stated that the study had its effect on the morale problem happening among employees and that he had spoken to some and people are upset.
“There is a recent hire that received a 5.7% raise and then there is someone who has been with the Town for 21 years that received a minimal 3% raise. Mistakes were made, and you [speaking to Mr. Cabral] don’t want to take responsibility for them,” he said. “We can’t compete with certain towns that aren’t comparable to Acushnet.”
Mr. Cabral spoke directly to Mr. Gaspar, saying he was giving Mr. Gaspar the opportunity to stand in front of the issue and lead it, as he was given the opportunity to do so in the past.
Mr. Gaspar said he did not think a sub-committee should be given the results of the study and then, led by Mr. Noble, do as he said, versus the Selectboard working to improve the study.
“Lead. Follow. Or get out of the way,” Mr. Cabral told Mr. Gaspar.
The discussion ended without a resolution. Mr. Cabral, as Chairperson moved the meeting to the next item on the agenda.
In the Town Administrator’s report, Mr. Noble said he had received a request from Mr. Cabral to find out the options to keeping the Department of Public Works Barn open on Saturdays until 5:00 p.m. Mr. Noble stated he did speak to the business manager and that the cost would be no more than $3300 to stay open from March to September an extra two and half hours on Saturday. Mr. Noble said he was waiting on the approval of the Selectboard to move forward, if they agreed he would have those discussions with the DPW.
Mr. Gaspar said he was not sure if they would be able to find an employee who would want to work on Saturdays until 5:00 p.m., but he was in favor of allowing Mr. Noble to move forward. The board agreed that Mr. Noble could move forward in discussing it with the DPW and the union. He will report back at the next meeting.
In other business, the Selectboard approved finance committee appointments Robert St. Jean and Robert Ferreira, and reported there was one vacant position on the committee. Any resident interested in the position should contact the Selectboard.
Lastly, Mr. Cabral stated he would like to ask the By-Law Review Committee to attend a meeting to discuss their role in reviewing the by-laws. He said as a Selectboard member on that committee, he was under the impression that the Committee met long before Town Meeting to review and recommend any changes to by-laws, however it was not until a day or so earlier than their most recent Town Meeting that the by-law committee met to go over by-law changes.
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