Plympton Selectmen met Monday March 27, preparing for May’s special town meeting and elections.
Town Clerk Tara Shaw reported there are 14 open seats to be voted on at the election. Some key positions include open seats on the Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, and two open seats on the Finance Committee.
Tara Shaw said that the last day to submit nomination papers, with the required 20 certified signatures, to the Board of Registrars is Monday, April 4, 2017.
The Finance Committee will join selectmen at the Monday, April 10, meeting to review the town’s FY18 budget before town meeting, according to Selectmen Chair Colleen Thompson.
One item in the budget that may need to change is the position of Town Clerk. Town Clerk Tara Shaw told selectmen how the job description and hours needed have changed for her position since the implementation of the new public records law (Chapter 121 of the Acts of 2016, “An Act to Improve Public Records”).
Shaw wrote a new job description for the Town Clerk position that includes the responsibilities associated with staying compliant with the state mandate. Shaw told the board that while there have been many new state mandates since 2012, the new Public Records law has added most of her new responsibilities.
In order to reduce the number of public records requests, Shaw has tried to put up as much information online as possible so that the records can be available to any who want them. Right now, she is the only one managing the website. She did however add that Bridgette Martins, selectmen’s assistant, will make emergency posts and announcements to the website from time to time.
When she first became Town Clerk, 22 hours per week was the assumed work load, Shaw said. In order to stay compliant with the public records law, Shaw says she’s worked on average 32 hours per week. Shaw is asking selectmen for an additional 10 hours per week and another two hours per week for administrative help.
Town Coordinator Dale Pleau told selectmen, towns of similar size have had to hire (a new position) for the Public Records Law. Pleau and selectmen all acknowledged the amount of added work Shaw has taken on. Thompson affirmed that Shaw’s need is legitimate.
The question discussed was if all of the new public records law hours should be added as a responsibility to the town clerk. Selectman John Traynor wants Shaw, the Board, and the Finance Committee to do a workflow analysis and breakdown of the new responsibilities. He wasn’t sure if some of these responsibilities would go to the new Town Administrator position, an administrative assistant, or even other departments.
Talks on this budget question as well as others will continue on Monday April 10, 2017 when the Finance Committee meets with the Board of Selectmen.
Traynor brought his board current on the progress on the IT Grant application, and the addition of another laptop to the grant. If approved, the grant funds will also be used to cover software costs that will be used to streamline the Public Records Law compliance process.
Thompson, who is also chairman of the Public Safety Building Committee, showed selectmen the prepared brochures showing the new police station that will be voted on at May’s Annual Town Meeting. The brochures will be distributed to all residents of Plympton, and there are copies in the lobby of the Plympton Town House.
The Public Safety Building Committee will host two open houses at the current police station, Thompson said: Saturday, April 8, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Wednesday, April 12, 2017 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
The next selectmen’s meeting is Monday April 3.
Open session will start at 6 p.m.