By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 9/8 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed issues with driveway waiver fines, voted on the water and sewer rate, and discussed the possibility of doing an independent study on the finances of the BPW.
At the beginning of the meeting board member Frank Coelho announced that he would be recording the meeting.
BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton asked to approve the minutes of three of the past BPW meetings. Mr. Coelho said that they should not approve the August 25 meeting minutes because the meeting was illegal. Mr. Coelho said that the agenda was not posted long enough, so they should not have had the meeting.
Mr. Wotton agreed that the minutes were not needed because the board was not able to vote on anything at the meeting because the agenda was not posted long enough.
The board voted to remove the minutes from the 8/25 meeting for approval.
In another matter BPW board member Cameron Durant asked when the town would be looking into getting weekly recycling.
Mr. Furtado said that was a topic for next year’s town meetings.
Mr. Durant asked if Mr. Furtado could look into the possibility of letting residents purchase an additional recycling bin.
“I would pay $100 out of pocket just to have an extra bin,” Mr. Durant said.
Mr. Furtado said he would look into it.
In another matter the board discussed the water and sewer rates increasing for the upcoming year.
Mr. Coelho suggested that they skip the rate increase for water this year because residents had to use a lot more water because of COVID-19. He said a lot of people are on fixed incomes.
Board members Marcus Ferro agreed and Robert “Hoppy” Hobson said they agreed.
Mr. Wotton also agreed and said that they should not increase the water rates this year due to COVID-19 affecting everyone’s finances, but they have to continue to increase the sewer rates.
The board voted unanimously to keep water rates the same and to increase sewer rates by 5%.
Mr. Furtado then asked the board if they would like to keep the recycling center hours as they currently are which is 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays and Wednesdays; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The board agreed to keep those hours until December 31.
In another matter Mr. Coelho brought up the idea of having an independent study done on the BPW, getting a management company to look at all the departments within the BPW and see if they can save money in some areas.
Mr. Coelho said recently the Planning Board just did this study.
He said that Mr. Furtado said that the study might help save some nickels and dimes, but Mr. Coelho said that he wants to help save the taxpayers’ nickels and dimes.
Mr. Coelho said he could talk about various departments within the BPW, such as the sewer department that has had a digester not working since 2016, and a few gas tanks that need repairs.
“Who’s telling you all these things,” Mr. Hobson asked. “How come they’re not telling Vinnie all these things?”
Mr. Durant said that Mr. Furtado has mentioned those issues many times.
“What difference does it make who’s telling me all this,” Mr. Coelho asked.
“Because if you know all this how come he [Mr. Furtado] doesn’t,” Mr. Hobson said.
“Why don’t you take a tour like I did,” Mr. Coelho said. “I asked to take a tour.”
“I’ve taken tours and nobody told me that stuff,” Mr. Hobson said. “Evidently you’re in tight with some of these people.”
“I don’t know what questions you asked, that’s got nothing to do with me,” Mr. Coelho said “I’m just telling you the research I’ve done. If you don’t want to hear it don’t hear it.”
“Ok, I’m done hearing,” Mr. Hobson said putting his fingers in his ears.
Mr. Hobson said that Mr. Coelho is saying all the things that Mr. Furtado should already know about.
Mr. Furtado said he already does know about all the issues with the sewer department equipment.
“I can’t understand what is wrong with the board,” Mr. Coelho said. “You have the same privileges I do.”
He explained that the board members all have a right to take tours of the facilities so they can know what they’re talking about. Mr. Coelho said he knows what he is talking about because he took tours.
“Why you picking on me because I’m doing my job…you know what I’m saying,” Mr. Coelho said.
“You’re the Chairman,” said to Mr. Wotton. “You should be running the committee. He [indicating Mr, Hobson] has no right asking me why I’m doing that.”
Mr. Wotton said he did not think anyone was picking on anybody. He said he thought that Mr. Hobson was just trying to make sure Mr. Furtado knew all this information.
Mr. Wotton said he knew about all those issues as well.
Mr. Durant said they have talked about all this six times in the last six months.
Mr. Wotton said he would love to cut costs and bring in a cost management company to help cut printing costs, etc. He said he was well aware of the repairs that are needed, but the town does not have the money for them right now.
Mr. Coelho said he wanted the study to see what needs to get done.
Mr. Furtado said that if the study can help lower operational expense, the town can save money towards the sewer department upgrades and maybe not have to raise the water and sewer rates every year.
Mr. Hobson said he was against “study on study on study.”
Mr. Furtado said he could look into how much the study would cost and they can discuss it at the next meeting. The board voted to tablethe issue until next meeting, with Mr. Hobson voting against.
In another matter Mr. Coelho asked to discuss the fines for contractors/ homeowners not taking permits out to put in driveways.
He said at the August 3 meeting the board charged the homeowner a $300 fine and at their August 17 meeting they charged the homeowner a $150 fine and the contractor a $150 fine.
Mr. Coelho said that the fine needs to be consistent for every person.
Mr. Ferro said he agreed.
Mr. Hobson said he thinks the fine for the contractor should be more because they should know better than not to take out a permit.
Administrative Assistant Becky Vento said the Highway Secretary told her it was a $100 fine for the homeowner and a $300 fine for the contractor if they are not approved within the town.
She said that the bylaw states that the fine is $300 each.
Mr. Hobson said the contractor should pay a $500 fine. He said that most homeowners do not even know that the contractor is not approved by the town.
Mr. Wotton suggested that they put the issue on the agenda for the next meeting and discuss increasing the fine for the contractors.
Support local journalism, donate to the Neighb News with PayPal.
Click here to download the entire 9/17/20 issue: 09-17-20 School1stDay