WHITMAN — Selectmen on Wednesday, June 19 voted 4-0 to approve a new contract with Town Administrator Frank Lynam. Selectman Randy LaMattina was absent.
In Lynam’s new contract, a three-year agreement running from July 1, 2019-2022, includes the 1-percent increase voted by Town Meeting. Future increases, however, will be negotiated with the Board of Selectmen.
“It should be noted that the contract that is presented tonight does not contain more benefits than the previous one, but rather has pulled back some of the benefits that are currently available to me,” Lynam said.
“It should be noted that our town administrator has taken the lead on reducing contractual burden to the town,” Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski said. “Hopefully, this contract becomes a model for future contracts.”
The contract has been posted on the town website.
Selectmen also discussed the budget and timeline for the anticipated fall Town Meeting. Lynam said he has discussed with the Collins Center its assistance in preparing a capital plan. He sent a list of the fiscal 2019 appropriations to the Collins Center after the books were closed Monday, June 17 so those figures could be incorporated in the outline being prepared for budgeting capital projects and needs in fiscal 2021.
“The bigger task we will have for both the Selectmen and the Finance [Committee], and the town departments is zeroing in on a defining plan for the future,” Lynam said.
A Proposition 2 ½ to increase the financial baseline for funding operations and capital needs would require more precision, he argued.
Selectmen agreed that a committee, made up of one or two Selectmen, one or two members of the Finance Committee, and representatives of the larger departments including at least one School Committee member and School District personnel, need to come together to begin a plan for how appropriations would be presented in October.
“It’s one thing to say we need to raise money, but we need to show people what that means and how it’s going to be utilized,” Lynam said. “We need to do it now.”
The makeup of the budget committee will be voted on at the next meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, July 9.
Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green has been asked to develop an outline of current budget numbers and the need to increase the levy in preparation for those meetings.
“It can’t be a small group of people fashioning a plan without the public having an opportunity to be informed about what they’re doing,” said Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski. “That’s a lot to do in the summertime, but it has to be done.”
In other business, Lynam reported that the DPW Commissioners have engaged Environmental Partners Group to assess the condition of a sewer pipe — installed in 1984 and planned to last 30 to 40 years — which is the subject of major concerns.
Over the next month or two the commissioners will be researching the permitting process for repairing or replacing the pipe.
“This is going to be an expensive project,” Lynam said. “We don’t have numbers now.”
But Lynam said, at minimum, installing a parallel PVC pipe and abandoning the old pipe could cost more than $8 million. More information is coming, but Lynam said he expects it to be a part of any capital plan.
Selectmen voted 3-1, with Selectman Dan Salvucci voting against to change real estate and personal tax bills — changing to mailing two, double remittance personal property bills instead of four separate bills and to increase the demand fee from $10 to $15 for bills on outstanding debts issued by the Treasuer/Collector in the next fiscal year.
Payment deadlines do not change. The plan is expected to save the town about $5,200 in postage costs and most mortgages are escrowed and paid automatically.
Salvucci’s concern was that seniors might misplace the second bill and return envelope in the mailings.