By Beth David, Editor
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito met with Acushnet Selectboard members to sign the Community Compact on Tuesday. After the mutual praise session, town officials took the opportunity to put a bug in her ear about the traffic issues on South Main Street and mention how the abandoned Route 240 extension could solve a lot of problems for the little town.
The occasion was the signing of the “Community Compact,” a voluntary agreement which gives the town access to state experts and grant money. The Compact allows towns to partner with the state to implement “best practices.” There are 10 areas to choose from, and towns can choose up to three areas.
Acushnet chose to partner with the state on Information Technology (IT), to help the municipal side of government and the school department consolidate IT functions where possible.
The town also chose Human Resources, to develop a formal wage and classification plan, which will evaluate salaries and job descriptions and make sure that Acushnet’s employees are being paid fairly. The town received an $8,400 grant to hire a consultant for this area.
The town also chose to partner with the state to create a Capital Improvement Plan. The town will study the condition of all capital assets, such as vehicles and other large ticket items, and create a timetable and budget plan for replacing them. The idea is to be able to plan ahead for replacing cruisers, fire trucks, computers, and other capital equipment that can seriously blow a budget.
The Compact allows the town to have access to the “Community Compact Cabinet,” which is a group of professionals that the town can rely on for assistance in their various fields of expertise. The state may also give grants for some tasks, said Ms. Polito after the meeting, if a particular area would be better served by an outside consultant, such as the grant for the wage and classification plan .
The program is voluntary, but 306 of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts have signed up, said Ms. Polito. She said the Baker-Polito administration was committed to making sure they would not be “directive.” The program is not only voluntary, but it is funded.
“Because unfunded mandates don’t work,” she said.
She said that the state is number on in a variety of areas.
“We want people to feel they live in the number-one state no matter were they in Massachusetts,” she said.
Selectboard chairperson Kevin Gaspar praised the administration and the program, saying it was not just a grant-making program, but provides practical help for towns.
He thanked her for “doing it the right way.”
After the handshakes were over, Lt. Gov. Polito listened as Selectboard members and Mr. Noble told her briefly about the trials and tribulations of neighbors near the PJ Keating quarry. They said opening up Route 240 to the rear of that property would alleviate a host of problems for residents.
The state took down some signage that the town had placed on South Main Street that, town officials admitted, they had put up illegally in desperation.
Ms. Polito said that they were smart to take advantage of her presence to talk about a pressing issue, even if not related to her visit.
“I’m here,” she said.
Ms. Polito also took time to praise town workers, politicians, and especially the fire and police chiefs. She said their work was important and that the state was working with schools to try to get more students involved in local government work.
“I grew up with the idea you have to have good people to give back,” said Lt. Gov. Polito.
The event was recorded by Government Access TV and will run again on Acushnet Cable Channel 18, and will be available online through a link on the town’s website, www.acushnet-ma.us, or at http://126.96.36.199/Cablecast/ Public/Main.aspx?ChannelID=1
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