I feel compelled, based upon some of the negative comments made at Sunday's candidates night about two town employees, on the hiring process and the decision by the BoS for two recent Public Works hires, Road Agent/DPW Director and Highway Foreman.
After Article 16 was approved by voters last March, the Selecmen were authorized to change the Road Agent position from elected to appointed. A search committee was formed officially by the BoS on May 12th, 2016 comprised of Josh Bartlett, BoS Liaison, Scott Kinmond, Highway
Department Foreman Ed Wakefield, Scott Dunn Town Administrator from Gilford, Meredith’s DPW Director Michael Faller, Town Administrator Walter Johnson, and two Citizen At Large
members, Barbara Rando and Travis Colby. The committee made the recommendation after reviewing resumes and conducting interviews, to hire Chris Theriault. The BoS concurred and Chris began his employment as our first appointed DPW Director, on August 29th, 2016.
Former Highway Foreman Ed Wakefield's retirement was announced by the BoS on October 20th, 2016 to be effective December 16th. It was stated Sunday that the BoS knew for a long time of Ed Wakefield's retirement and why did it take so long to hire a replacement. The position was posted internally on November 3rd, 2016, just two weeks after his retirement was announced. Applications were received, candidates were interviewed, and Ron DeDucca, our new Highway Foreman, began work on February 6th 2017. I don't see a seven week period between Ed Wakefield's retirement and our new hire beginning employment, as inordinately long.
The implication that the BoS did not do it's due diligence or follow a well planned process to fill these two key positions is simply incorrect and not factual. As I stated at a recent BoS meeting, everyone needs to give our new hires a chance. Both predecessors had big shoes to fill and we greatly appreciate their contribution and dedication to our town. No matter who was hired, there would be a period of adjustment. Change is not easy, but sometimes necessary. In this case, we made hires for these positions based upon the needs of a modern, circa 2017 town. Times have changed.
A quick comment on our capital expenditures as they relate to DPW. All capital projects and programs are thoroughly vetted by the Capital Improvements Program Committee of which I am the Bos representative. Every department presents their case with supporting documentation in a process that has been called laborious, but necessary to serve the best interests of the town. The 2017 recommended CIPC program is $1,723,346 which is $205,000 less than 2016. In terms of tax levy for 2017, with use of funding from capital reserve accounts and judicious use of fund balance offsets, the total amount proposed is almost $500,000 less than 2016.
Knowing how hard the Town Administrator, BoS, town staff, department heads and volunteer committees work to produce a responsible budget, I take it rather personally when I hear that we're not doing a good job or that we have gone backwards.
Quite the opposite is true. Moultonboro is well positioned for the future and whatever challenges may come before us.