WHITMAN — Hiring, overtime, or spending freezes “are things we have to start considering now,” according Selectman Scott Lambiase, who is heading up budget review meetings between town departments as budget liaison.
“We’re going to be going into some difficult times,” he said during the board’s Tuesday, Feb. 26 meeting on why the measures may have to be considered.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam said he is working on a Monday, March 4 date for a meeting with union representatives about a possible two-year wage freeze. Lynam said he would be meeting with the Finance Committee that same evening regarding the budget and warrants for the Town Meeting as they conduct the second round of meetings with department heads.
“Walking into this meeting, or subsequent meetings, we really do need — and hopefully that’ll come out tonight — the overall number to walk into Town Meeting,” Lambiase said. “We met with these unions originally and we, in good faith, came up with some contracts that we’re technically obligated under. So what is that number to us now — and that’s the number we’ve got to be pushing for now to fully fund this and make it sustainable.”
He said, without harder budget numbers and what they will mean to employees, “it’s going to difficult at best” walking into the meetings with union representatives. Lynam agreed with that characterization.
Selectman Randy LaMattina said they also need to discuss strategy on what the town will do if the wage freezes don’t happen.
“To be honest with you, I think we’re getting them a little late for that being a possibility,” he said. “It’s [important] getting this number and facing the cold, hard truth of what it’s going to be. It’s not going to be pretty — I think we all know that — and it has to come out and we have to start dealing with it, I think, in a little more timely fashion.”
Any override, LaMattina argued, would have to be no less than a level-service budget.
Lynam also said Dr. Melinda Tarsi of Bridgewater State University is working on an outline for a community presentation of the findings from the recent Community Assessment survey.
Tarsi is looking to schedule a meeting 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 19 in the Town Hall Auditorium. Selectmen will meet at 6 p.m. before the community presentation.
He also announced that the town recently completed its annual audit with only to “very minimal” comments of little concern. The audit report is viewable online at Whitman.ma.gov.
Lynam also announced that Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green has earned and received the state designation of municipal certified procurement officer (MCPO), and has also embarked on a challenging course on human resource management and has received her first designation.