Bellows Falls Trustees searching for municipal manager

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Tuesday, June 9, the Bellows Falls Village Trustees discussed the Police Department, the Wastewater Department, and the municipal manager search.

Interim Police Chief Sergeant Bemis requested another full-time officer be hired. Currently, there are only four. Gary Lique and James McAuliffe agreed.

Village President Deborah Wright asked about the destruction of a lilac bush at the Hetty Green Park and said, “The plant will not recover.” Bemis said that it was a mental health issue, and there was no ticket issued.

A motion was passed to sell the 2014 Canine Officer Cruiser, the 2008 Ford Sport Trac, the past Chief’s auxiliary vehicle, and the Bellows Falls Fire Department’s Engine 2. Fire Chief Shaun McGinnis suggested they sell all on Facebook.

The police chief search committee added new members including Walpole Police Chief Paquette and local residents Jill James and Julian Perkins. The application deadline is July 7.

Wastewater Department chief operator Rob Wheeler updated the Trustees on the purchase of a new pump motor and the department’s plans on rebuilding one to use as a spare. He noted that there was an increase in septage from last year and asked the public to “not flush baby wipes. They wreak havoc to the system.”

The Trustees discussed whether they would handle the process in-house to find a new municipal manager by utilizing human resources and finance director Shannon Burbela and interim Manager Chuck Wise to present the top candidates to both boards.

Selectboard Chair Gaetano Putignano said the majority of the Selectboard favored an in-house search rather than by a committee decision and paying the Vermont League of Towns and Cities.

Burbela explained they would advertise in local papers, through, and the VLTC.

Jonathan Wright made the motion to authorize Burbela and Wise to search for a manager.

McAuliffe suggested they add community members to the vetting process. Wright said, “We ignored the committee’s recommendation” on the last search and agreed with Putignano on forgoing a committee.

Deborah Wright requested that Burbela use a grading system to recommend the top five candidates, but said, “We will look at all of them.” Motion was passed 4-1 with McAuliffe against.

The Trustees special organizational meeting is June 23 and the Joint Board is June 30.

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