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Moultonboro keeps DPW on the table


September 16, 2009
MOULTONBORO — The town will further look into logistics and options for combining several departments into a possible public works department model.

Town Administrator Carter Terenzini said the town has had a "defacto Department of Public Works for the past six months." The town is now looking at the advantages and disadvantages of sharing staff, equipment, and work between departments and the possibility of reducing equipment.

Road Agent Scott Kinmond said several factors have been examined over the course of the period, including jobs performed, expenses, construction work, and others. There is also a flow chart relative to the work of a DPW. Kinmond said two primary divisions were set up with Waste Management and the Highway Department.

Supervisors have managed day-to-day operations with the highway agent doing some more administrative duties as well as other tasks.

"We've been doing that somewhat since the new supervisors came on board," Kinmond said.

Kinmond said ways are also being looked at to "dovetail" into the bidding processes of the departments. There has also been a "shuffling and sharing of equipment."

Other things will have to be further worked out, such as a supervisory position for Facilities and Grounds.

"With that added piece to that puzzle there comes around (managing) of accountability," Kinmond said.

Kinmond said there are opportunities for cost efficiencies with the combining of hours and work. Job descriptions and pay grade and scale are also being discussed along with the sharing of resources and seasonal labor. Terenzini said the creation of new job titles is another matter for discussion.

Members of the Board of Selectmen expressed concern about the possible leadership problems that may arise if the head of a DPW is not reelected.

"As much as I think this is a good direction, I do think it poses a political problem," Kinmond said. "Somebody would say 'You are absolutely crazy to consider something like this.' If this is a direction the town doesn't want to go, I would be content just to take care of the Highway Department. There's no doubt being an elected DPW director without some strong leadership from the board can be very difficult."

Selectman Ed Charest mentioned the possibility of having a director of Public Works and a road agent.

"Having a director of Public Works just adds another layer of money on," said Selectman Betsey Patten, also saying she is not speaking for an appointed road agent if questions steer in that direction.

Patten said in the flow of command there would be a second in command who could be trained and have a supervisory role.

"If there is a change in the top level there is usually not a huge shift if you get your second tier to know what is going on," she said.

Kinmond said discussions are being held on the possibility of shifting people to different positions in the event of a blizzard or even a widespread illness like Swine Flu.

"It's crucial to be in the field and crucial to have that leadership in the field," Kinmond said.

Charest said there was still concern about the Road Agent being an elected position within this system.

Patten said she liked the concept, but both Patten and Charest wanted to make sure here is someone in the field with experience and training to take a leadership position.

"I think it is a good structure and I think that is a good thing," Patten said.

The selectmen agreed by consensus to continue down the path as it has been going, further looking into and working with job descriptions, appropriate pay grades, education, and other factors.

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