The week in government

by beth on December 21, 2020

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Above: These days, most meetings that used to welcome the public to attend in the Town House Hearing Room or other public facilities are accessible to the public by video/audio conference calls only.

Here are the posted committee and board meetings for this week along with my selected highlights from the agendas. All currently scheduled meetings are available to the public virtually.*

As always, be aware that changes to the meeting schedule are known to happen throughout the week. (Last week, a couple meetings popped up that I didn’t list last Monday – scroll down for those details.) For an updated list of meetings, visit the town website.

Monday, December 21, 2020

  • Taxation Aid Committee Meeting, 4:00 pm @ Virtual Meeting (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Discuss status of the partnership with the Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds
  • Southborough Stewardship Committee Meeting, 6:30 pm @ Virtual Meeting (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Posting Rules & Signs, Updates on Mowing decisions from the site walk, Grants, Request for Proposal

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

  • Municipal Technology Committee Meeting, 7:00 pm @ Virtual Meeting (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Tech inTown Clerks office, Requirements & Tech for preservation of virtual meeting records under OML; Brief Technology Status updates, Strategy, & next year FY Budget Reviews; Town Tech Dept process/docs/knowledge hand-off and continuity

Looking Back:

Below are meetings from last week that were posted after I ran last week’s list:

Thursday, December 17, 2020

  • Community Preservation Committee Meeting, 7:00 pm @ Virtual Meeting (agenda, videoAgenda Highlights: Review projects – Town House, Trails Committee, and Southborough Historical Society; FY22 Budget; Golf Course update

Friday, December 18, 2020

  • Board of Health Meeting, 10:00 am @ Virtual Meeting (agenda, videoAgenda Highlights: Health Director’s role moving forward; Updates on Covid response and Health Dept restructure; Staffing Crisis; Covid vaccine application and Emergency Distribution Plan; FY22 Budget proposal for full time staff positions and review of job descriptions; Review of Environmental Health Inspectional services and revising soil test witnessing fees; Vote on submitting “Davis Farm Trash-Dump Report”
  • Open Space Preservation Commission Meeting, 3:00 pm @ Virtual Meeting (agenda, videoAgenda Highlights: 97 Mt Vickery Road; Town-Owned Open Space; Open Space and Rec Plan project partnership with Conservation Commission; Chapter 61 process; Native Pollinator/Plant Initiative

*The Town intends to make each of its meetings available for viewing/listening via streaming live (and saved) video and audio on YouTube with some available for public comment by zoom. Live streaming of school committee meetings is only available for viewing via webinars. There is the caveat that there could be technical glitches that force the Town to take backup actions:

No in-person attendance of members of the public will be permitted, but every effort will be made to ensure that the public can adequately access the proceedings in real time, via technological means. In the event that we are unable to do so, despite best efforts, we will post on Southborough’s website an audio or video recording, transcript, or other comprehensive record of proceedings as soon as possible after the meeting.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 what's the plan? December 22, 2020 at 12:17 PM

Re: Covid vaccine application and Emergency Distribution Plan

What *is* the plan? I’ve heard various strategies kicked about and the question remains, “What is the plan for the Town of Southborough?”.

1. When is the vaccine expected to arrive for the Town?

2. What is the order of distribution to Town residents?

3. When do Town employees receive their vaccinations?

4. When does everyone else receive their vaccinations?

What is the “staffing crisis”? Please provide details.

Reply

2 beth December 22, 2020 at 4:01 PM

I’ve actually been working on a post most of today and a good part of yesterday. (It required watching multiple meetings, going through minutes, and I still need to get some information.)

The short answers are:

The Town has to apply for a vaccine. Hopefully the Town will approve its plan and a clinic can be held for vulnerable residents sometime this spring. Paramedics may be eligible to get vaccines sooner through other means. But any info on Town employees, residents in general, that isn’t available yet.

The Staffing crisis is that the overworked part time (but working full time) Nurse is resigning. The Board is attempting to hire a new interim Public Health director with needed expertise. (Current Director Paul Pisinski’s area of expertise is environmental health.) To help that happen, Pisinski (who has also been working much longer than intended hours) is also resigning. There Board has been dealing with roadblocks in funding and legalities to be able to hire the staff it needs.

Reply

3 Matthew December 23, 2020 at 9:04 AM

I don’t know why but the thought of the Fire Department Chief getting that new vehicle during our summer budget discussions at Neary suddenly popped into my head. What if we had the foresight at the dawn of the pandemic to see that we might need more than a part time nurse?

Reply

4 Concerned Resident December 28, 2020 at 4:32 PM

The Board of Health is overworked and in disarray. Seems like it needs some financial and moral support at this difficult juncture with the vaccines. Where’s the support for the BOH? If you don’t need a high-functioning BOH during a pandemic, then when do you? How about some attention and funding, Selectmen and Advisory? Just saying.

Reply

5 another Southborough tempest in a teacup December 29, 2020 at 12:09 PM

The delayed Town Meeting was held June 13, 2020, long after the pandemic was recognized as a public health issue. Budgets for the Town departments were approved by voters at that time.

Now someone wants to modify funding? Shall we hold another “deferred” Town Meeting?
How did the last one work out? It was cancelled!

There are several sources available for Town residents to obtain COVID19 vaccinations. It is not a requirement for the Town to provide a vaccination clinic. Vaccinations are being provided AT NO COST to patients. Town residents can contact their physicians, the local medical centers or any one of the various pharmaceutical chains nearby, including CVS and Walgreens.

This is NOT a crisis!

COVID19 vaccinations are and/or will be made available to people and do NOT rely on the Southborough BOH for their availability.

Let’s not create a crisis when there is NONE!

There’s enough going on with the pandemic, job losses and a recalcitrant political office holder without looking to create a problem when there isn’t one!

Move on.

Reply

6 Concerned resident December 29, 2020 at 2:33 PM

Dear Tempest in a Teacup,

The fact that the last deferred town meeting was canceled has nothing to do with the legitimacy or justification for funding the BOH now.

Logic?

PS, last time I looked (yesterday) no CVS or Walgreen’s has vaccine available to the public. You might check out what the Boards of Health are doing in surrounding towns to get vaccine to residents.

Reply

7 southsider December 30, 2020 at 8:04 AM

Tempest in a teacup? the pandemic??

The Board of Health is a trivially small department in regards to how much their services cost the town. They’ve had resignnations from overworked people and have had our major Boards – Selectmen and Advisory – throw red tape at their requests for a little more help.

I am not a health professional but I assume they are. If they say they could use some extra help as virus cases across the country pass the 20 million(!) mark, I say we should give them whatever they think they need. We can always re-visit after the crisis has passed, In my opinion, this is EXACTLY why we created the Reserve Fund.

It’s not the time to criticize an overworked, underpaid department of people who are trying to help

Reply

8 Grandmother December 29, 2020 at 6:26 PM

This is a health crisis, a pandemic.People are dying. The powers that be in the town need to support and fund the BOH. Surrounding towns and boards of health are stepping up with contact tracing and support to residents who are affected by COVID. School nurses in local districts are very involved and supporting the BOH in varying capacities. Southborough could collaborate and learn from our surrounding communities.

Reply

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