Last night, the Planning Board appointed two new members to the Public Works Planning Board. That board is responsible for advising the Board of Selectmen on planning, managing and financing the town’s DPW.
In June, selectmen asked DPW Director Karen Galligan about recent inactivity of the board. They asked her to give it a new charge, considering options for changes at the Transfer Station. One option to be reevaluated is “pay as you throw”.
The Planning Board was responsible for appointing two spots on the board out of five volunteer candidates. (Town Planner Jennifer Burney explained that the other 3 positions are filled by the Town Moderator.)
Each candidate received at least one vote of support from the board. In the end, the board selected Jamie Hellen for three years and Susan Baust for two.
Hellen was the only candidate to answer questions last night. Planning Board member Kathleen Bartolini was dismayed that she couldn’t question the others.
She worried that going forward candidates may think “show up, you get hit with questions and if you stay at home, you don’t have to answer questions”. Burney explained that the candidates were notified of the meeting, but told attendance wasn’t required.
Hellen is Operations Assistant to Hopkinton’s Town Manager. Adressing the board he pitched his experience in municipal operations and budgeting.
The candidate mentioned that the DPW had “a few hiccups” in the past. Asked to clarify, he pointed to the Town Warrant’s capital expenses not listing items like a new vehicle budgeted for the DPW Director.
He also reminded Planning Board members of the controversy last spring over changes to the Cemetary Supervisor position. He said it could have done with “a little more vetting up front”.
Hellen saw being a resident of only 4-5 years who doesn’t know people at the DPW, as a selling point. He suggested that it would be good to bring a fresh perspective from a citizen viewpoint. He saw the benefit of the board as being a citizen peer review committee before DPW related articles get to Town Meeting.
In discussing candidates, Bartolini raised red flags on what she saw as potential conflict in appointing Baust.
She said a note in the initial handwritten list included that Baust was recommended by DPW Director Karen Galligan.
Bartolini advocated that the person being advised should be “hands off”. Candidates shouldn’t feel that being considered means they need to align their thinking with the town employee they are advising.
Chair Don Morris rebutted that the DPW Planning Board advises selectmen, it doesn’t report to Galligan.
Morris, along with members Phil Jenks and Andrew Mills, were supportive of Baust based on her past service on town committees.
Those that knew the candidate said they respected her. Bartolini clarified that it wasn’t personal, since she doesn’t know Baust.