HANSON — The town is negotiating with Hanover officials concerning the possibility of shared services for veterans affairs and the town planner/conservation agent positions.
Town Administrator Michael McCue said he is “in negotiations both with the affected committees and other communities” about available options. Those negotiations have included several conversations about options with Hanover.
He said any inter-municipal agreements would be in place for a year and would be reviewed to determine whether or not Hanson continues with it.
“I think that, as far as the veterans agent goes, I’d like to do a little outreach to veterans in town through the [American] Legion,” McCue said. “I think it’s important for the veterans in town to understand some of the options we’re looking at and get their feedback.”
Selectmen Chairman Jim McGahan also said he wants to hear feedback from Veterans Agent Bob Arsenault, who retires Dec. 31, as well as a list of his tasks and duties.
“I’m looking for hard, concrete things, which Bob actually does,” McGahan said. “We all know he does a lot.”
McCue sees the planner/conservation agent positions separated and shared with counterparts in another community such as Hanover.
“That was done several years ago when the town was in a financial crisis,” McCue said of the single department head for two departments. “We are in a position in some form to separate the two positions.”
That said, McCue conceded that the cost for two full-time positions in Hanson might be difficult for the town to support.
The chairmen of both the Planning Board and Conservation Commission have indicated support for whatever arrangement works best for the town, McCue said.
“Generally, the way it looks, there is more town planning work in Hanover … and my indication is, there’s more conservation work that needs to be done in the town of Hanson,” McCue said. “However, those percentages could fluctuate.”
An arrangement with Hanover would entail a shared department situation, funded based on population — as is the case with the W-H school district. The state is “very interested in shared services,” McCue noted. A state grant for such a move just opened the application process Monday, Oct. 16.
“The intent is to keep the budget as close [as possible] as it is now,” he said.
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett noted the current combined position encompasses two separate skill sets and makes some sense, but questioned the effect of a shared veterans agent for programs such as the Memorial Day parade, which could occur simultaneously in each town.
“Which town is he in?” she asked, stressing that there must be some method of ensuring there is no reduction in services for Hanson’s veterans.
She also asked if Hanover selectmen have supported the shared services concept or taken a vote.
McCue said Hanover has not yet voted but indicated the Hanover town manager has described them as “enthusiastic and very interested in moving forward on this issue.
“I asked them to hold off on a vote until we had our discussions on it,” McCue said.