BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – At the Jan. 7 Rockingham Selectboard meeting, the budget was discussed at length and members agreed they needed to cut spending. They reexamined Public Works Director Everett Hammond’s position and Development Director Gary Fox’s request for full-time.
Municipal Manager Wendy Harrison supported Fox’s request to increase his hours, making him full-time. Gaetano Putignano did not agree that adding staff hours would benefit taxpayers. Harrison noted if Fox had the extra hours needed, it would help her and give more time for necessary grant applications and better relationships with agencies who provide funding for Rockingham’s economic development.
Susan Hammond agreed and stated the benefits outweigh the cost, recommending Fox for the requested full-time position. Putignano disagreed, stating “We do not need more personnel.”
Ben Masure admitted he was not “100% convinced it was necessary” for this position to be full-time. Stefan Golec said he wanted to see tangible results and was not interested in staff increases. Chair Peter Golec said his sense from the Selectboard was to keep Fox at his current 30 hours. Golec noted that Hammond disagreed.
The need for Everett Hammond’s full-time position was discussed. Harrison stated they saved over $100,000 on the Burt and Blake streets projects because of Hammond’s knowledge of the town. Stefan Golec asked Hammond, if no longer employed “what would not get done that should be done?” Hammond asked for time to present a list.
Putignano argued that this was a “very expensive position. There are no scheduled projects and other folks that can write grants.”
Highway Superintendent Michael Hindes said, “It’s not good practice to cut a position like this,” reminding the Selectboard that they would need an engineer for upcoming culvert projects. Susan Hammond said it was “short-sighted thinking to get rid of his position” and to “leave as-is.”
Village Trustee President Deborah Wright reminded the Selectboard that 10 years ago this position was cut. Wright questioned those that were on that Selectboard, “What was the reason?”
Peter Golec replied, it was “a tax situation, and we needed to cut the budget at the time.”
Stefan Golec recommended waiting for the next meeting Jan. 21 to make the decision. He said, “Let’s look at this and make sure it’s what we want to do.”
The Rockingham Selectboard’s next meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.