Members from the Plymouth County Commissioners’ office met with the Plympton Board of Selectmen at their meeting on Monday, May 5, 2017. Selectmen Clerk John Traynor was not able to attend the meeting.
Those who joined selectmen from the Plymouth County Commissioners’ Office included Commission Administrator Frank Basler and Commissioner Sandra Wright. Plymouth County Treasurer Tom O’Brien also joined the meeting. O’Brien said he was excited to be back in Plympton because he used to serve Plympton as a state representative on Beacon Hill.
The purpose of this visit was to present the county’s operating budget for the fiscal year to the Board of Selectmen. This proposed budget forecasts the budget for Plymouth County to be $10,172,195.
However, 2018 county revenue is also estimated at $10,172,195.15, meaning a balanced budget is projected. It is worth noting that a projected $275,000 of that budget is projected to be put in an OPEB Liability Trust Fund, essentially a reserve fund to be spent in case of emergency.
The budget is increasing from 2017 to 2018 by about $449,000. New services are being added by the County, one in particular is the addition of an entomologist to help educate communities on how to prevent Lyme Disease.
According to the Commission, Massachusetts ranks third in the United States in the number of reported cases of Lyme Disease. Plymouth County ranks an alarming third in the entire state. O’Brien says that the whole purpose of this new position is to address this problem using education as a means of prevention.
Some of the increase in the budget is due to raises for existing positions. Specifically, raises in the Plymouth County Commissioners’ Office the budget by roughly $58,000.
O’Brien told selectmen that more services and responsibilities are being added to the office, particularly to Commissioner Administrator Frank Basler.
Plympton Board Chair Collen Thompson asked if the position of assistant grant writer was no longer funded. O’Brien confirmed this, but emphasized Basler’s experience as a grant writer.
Selectman Christine Joy spoke about Plympton’s own intentions to use grants to fund new software to be used to be compliant with the state’s new Public Records Law. O’Brien mentioned that Basler does a lot of this work for Plymouth County. Obrien says, “Frank can be helpful as a resource.”
Joy also brought up that the town is looking to hire a Town Administrator. The board was told the county does offer services and feasibility studies in helping to hire local government employees for a small fee.
Frank Basler brought up that the town of Onset used the county for assistance with a new fire department. Basler told the board that Onsett said they paid about a third of what they would have paid compared to using a consulting firm. O’Brien also told selectmen that Basler or himself would be willing to sit in on interviews if Plympton would like.
O’Brien thanked the Board for having them because he says they’ve had a problem with one town already voting against the county budget without it being formally presented. He says, “Unfortunately in one community, they decided they didn’t want to take a vote on the budget without ever hearing anything about the budget.”
He says there were a few other towns that had made a vote on the budget before presentation and since speaking to them, the Commissioners’ office was able to get those communities’ to rescind their votes.
The budget itself can be found at www.plymouthcountyma.gov.
Dennett Elementary School Water Update
Jon Wilhelmson from the Dennett School Committee met with the Plympton Board of Selectmen to give an update on the issues of copper and lead in the water at the Dennett Elementary School. Wilhelmson says that Dennett School Principal Peter Veneto was on a conference call with someone from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who strongly encouraged the school committee to get the funds for the water treatment system.
Wilhelmson says there was some evidence of a sampling error on the lead testing, however the current treatment system is still below EPA standards. The funding for the water treatment center is being addressed in a warrant article for town meeting. According to Principal Veneto’s conference call though, there will be fines and further complications if the funding is not procured at Town Meeting.
Board of Selectmen Clerk John Traynor has been doing research on consulting firms to assist in hiring a town administrator. Colleen Thompson and Christine Joy both agreed that Traynor will also follow up with Plymouth County as part of his research.
This was Colleen Thompson’s last meeting as a member of the Board of Selectmen as this is the last meeting before Town Meeting and town elections. Town Meeting is Wednesday, May 17, 2017 and town elections are Saturday, May 20, 2017. The next Board of Selectmen Meeting is Monday, May 22, 2017.