Selectmen have added funding for six new, or returning, positions to their recommended budget for the coming fiscal year.
Selectmen voted Tuesday, first, to add the two positions that were listed in their goals: a facilities manager and an accountant.
They also approved Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino’s recommendations, in the following order of priority: to add a full-time administrator split between the human resources department and the fire department, return a full-time secretary to the police department, add a librarian/IT person to the library staff and an operations chief to the Bourne Fire Department. The latter nonunion position would add, in essence, an assistant chief to the department, a person who would work daytime hours and act as the fire chief’s second-in-command.
The administrator’s proposed funding of a lieutenant/fire inspector’s position to the fire department would be eliminated from the budget, but Mr. Guerino said the operations chief could take on oversight of inspections as a part of his or her administrative duties.
Selectmen chose not to back Fire Chief Martin Greene’s plan to hire an additional eight new firefighters even after that number was cut to four. Chief Greene had said he would like to hire those firefighters if he was successful in obtaining a federal grant that would pay these salaries for two years.
Selectman Earl V. Baldwin made a motion to add the four firefighters, but that motion failed for the lack of a second.
Chairman Donald J. Pickard said he had not been convinced that the town would be able to let those people go, if and when the grant money was no longer available. He did not want to take on the risk of hiring people whose employment could not be sustained.
Mr. Guerino argued that even if the positions were no longer funded, the town would have four trained firefighters who were available to take the place of retiring personnel, given that three firefighters might conceivably be retiring in the next few years.
Selectmen voted to table the matter and consider any alternate proposal if one is brought back before them next week.
Mr. Guerino told selectmen at the outset that all of the positions he was recommending would be sustainable going forward.
Some of the added positions, such as that of a facilities manager, are expected to pay for themselves over time. Others, like the accountant’s position, are expected to free overloaded department heads, such as finance Director Linda A. Marzelli, to do the jobs for which they were hired,
Mr. Guerino admitted to selectmen that at least one job, the police department’s secretarial position, should never have been eliminated in the first place.
The most contentious of the issues was the hiring of a full-time person to be shared by the fire and human relations departments.
Mr. Guerino said that, in order to hire a person of the caliber needed to handle confidential material, he needed to offer a full-time position with benefits. Selectman John A. Ford Jr. disagreed at first, saying the two jobs were too different and that there would be a push-pull on that person’s time between the two departments.
He acceded to his fellow selectmen, however, and the addition was approved after his motion to reconsider the matter.
The budget additions were approved only after considerable discussion of the impact of adding those personnel in the wake of a budget year in which positions had to be cut and when many townspeople were already living in tightened circumstances. Mr. Ford, in particular, was concerned for those on fixed incomes, reminding selectmen that they had already approved funding for lifeguards and would be picking up positions previously the responsibility of the Friends of the Bourne Council on Aging.
Selectmen concluded, however, that the town was in a financial position that would allow them to use a combination of its increasing reserves and anticipated aid.
The administrator’s proposed budget is still under review; once selectmen approve their version of the budget, it will head to voters at the May 7 Town Meeting.
In other action, they sent Mr. Guerino’s proposed revised organizational chart, one that drastically reduced the number of department heads who report to him, back to the drawing board.