By Abram Neal
HANSON — Will a regional animal control officer meet the town’s need for that service? While there is some skepticism among both Hanson and Whitman officials, they are willing to give it a try for one year.
On Tuesday, June 16 Hanson Selectmen worked quickly through a short agenda without major discussion. The most controversial topic of the evening, regionalization of an animal control officer, was approved by a 4-1 vote.
Selectman Bill Scott was a vocal opponent of the proposal.
At the same time, Whitman Selectmen were voting 5-0 in support of the regional approach on a one-year trial basis.
Whitman, Hanson, and Abington have drawn up an inter-municipal agreement to share an Animal Control Officer and an Assistant Animal Control Officer, who would be a Whitman town employee. Each town would pay a percentage of the salary and operational budget for the tri-town officers. Position descriptions for both the ACO and the Assistant ACO have been drawn up as well.
As Hanson does not currently have a facility to house lost or abandoned animals, and compared to the cost previously of hiring an ACO for the town, this would represent significant savings for the town.
Selectmen Donald Howard and James McGahan were concerned about whether the town counsel had reviewed the contracts. Town Administrator Ron San Angelo responded first that the position descriptions must be legal, as he had copied Duxbury’s ACO contracts nearly identically. He then stated that Abington’s legal counsel had reviewed the tri-town agreement, though the Selectmen remained unconvinced and insisted that Hanson’s attorney must review the agreement. Concerns included liability and workers compensation if the Whitman town employee were injured in Hanson.
Whitman Selectmen expressed concern about the pay scale being offered.
“By combining our resources we can share in the expenses associated with animal control,” Whitman Town Administrator Frank Lynam told his board. “The concept we’re moving to is responding to calls as opposed to patrolling.”
The towns’ financial share in the agreement is based on population. Lynam said he had doubts about the workability of the numbers, but that his counterparts in Hanson and Abington were more confident and he was willing to try it “recognizing that we may have to tweak some of the budget numbers.”
Whitman already takes a very successful regional approach to veterans’ services with Abington.
San Angelo also reported on two projects underway at the Town Hall. New lighting fixtures and doors both are being delayed due to technical problems – the lights due to pipes in the ceiling that do not allow the lights to be properly recessed and doors that were “made wrong” and need to be rebuilt.
He also reported that the second annual Hanson Day was a great success, with a turnout of about 1,000. San Angelo also presented quarterly budgets prepared by the Town Accountant.
The Chairman, Bruce Young, read into the record reports from the Monponsett Pond Committee, which reported that Brockton had tapped into the pond for five days during May when blue-green algae colonies were at 190,000 parts per million, above the safe limit. As well, status updates on two building projects at the Indian Head and Maquan Schools were read, although nothing major has changed since the last report.
Finally, the Board recognized Shannon Arlin, a South Shore Vocational Technical High student for her gold medal at the SkillsUSA contest in the field of Graphic Communications. Arlin will go on to represent Massachusetts at the National contest in Louisville, Kentucky. Chairman Young read the Board’s citation into the record, although Arlin was not present to receive it. The Board also accepted, with regret, the resignation of Joan Powers from the Historical Commission.
— Express Editor Tracy F. Seelye contributed to this report.