Select Board to vote on DPW Head contract tonight

Over the past eight months, Southborough’s Dept of Public Works and its Superintendent have been the subject of intense criticism. This evening, the Select Board is scheduled to vote on Superintendent Karen Galligan’s 3-year successor agreement.*

The agreement was posted in the packet for tonight’s meeting. Today, a letter issued to the Board and this blog claims to list the comments of “dozens of concerned taxpayers”.

The letter from resident Patricia Burns Fiore claims to represent the comments of others who preferred to remain anonymous. It is a laundry list of complaints about the DPW’s actions, inactions, and oversight on a range of issues.

The letter referred to a vote to take place without the public having had a chance to see the contract and comment on it. I responded to Fiore to inform her that it was publicly posted. (I believe it was part of the materials posted on Friday morning.) She responded that she had just seen the letter.

Since I’m sure this letter will come up tonight, I’m sharing below more details about it and the draft the agreement.

Under the agreement, Galligan would receive $120,063 for July 2022 through June 2023, plus 3% payment to a deferred compensation plan. The Town also provides a vehicle for both professional and personal use. The personal use is justified as necessary due to the position being “on call” for emergencies.

For subsequent years (through June 2025), raises would be “up to” the “base wage increase” for the Town’s Salary Administration Plan for non-union employees.

The raise would be decided by the Select Board, based on the evaluations conducted by the Town Administrator. The agreement specifies that the evaluations must be conducted each year. “Further, the Town Administrator shall provide adequate opportunity for the SUPERINTENDENT to discuss his evaluation with the Select Board.”

The DPW and Galligan have been the subject of criticism plenty of times over the years. But the recent level of public acrimony is higher than I’ve seen it since I started on the blog in 2013. That appears to be a combination of recent controversies around trees and road projects, and those who are still upset over past issues, controversies, or interactions.

Six pages of negative comments are listed under the following headings:

  • DPW Superintendent
  • DPW Procedures
  • Roads, Paving and Safety
  • St. Mark’s Park (Debacle)
  • Flagg Road/ Deerfoot Road Intersection
  • Parkerville Road
  • Northborough Road culvert
  • No to Hopkinton? [Editor’s Note: This relates to another agenda item tonight – Hopkinton’s request to access MWRA water through Southborough.]
  • Sidewalks
  • Transfer Station
  • Trees
  • The appearance of Southborough
  • Improper behavior swept under the rug – no consequences

You can read it here.

The letter follows up on a comment that Fiore made at the last Select Board Meeting. During the final Public Comment, she questioned why the Board was negotiating the contract in closed session rather than allowing the public to see the agreement.

Members responded that negotiations are allowed in Executive Session to give the Board a better negotiating position. The final vote is cast in a public session and the agreement is made public record after the vote.

Fiore countered that residents’ should have the ability to see the agreement in advance and comment on it.

Chair Kathy Cook responded that when people see that the Board is pursuing something, they don’t have to wait until it is in public session to provide comments for the Board to consider. She followed that she had forwarded a letter from Fiore on the topic to the other Board members and they would consider it during their negotiations.

*There are quite a few items on the agenda that readers might care about. You can find the full agenda and packets here. You can read my agenda highlights from yesterday here. Participation is welcome both in person at the Town House Hearing Room or over zoom. The meeting begins at 6:00 pm, but the related agenda item is much further into the agenda. (That said, there isn’t a required order for items to be handled.)

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2 years ago

Lots of talk in the letter about Parkerville North. I 100% agree that it’s a horrible road and needs repaving; but I also seem to recall it being said that such a large underground project requires some amount of time for the digging to re-settle before it’s wise to properly re-pave.
But that and other information should have been more readily available to the people who seem most concerned.
For some reason, it seems to me that the town executives are so focused on grabbing state or federal funding for any and all kinds of projects that they forget to confirm that those projects are what the taxpayers of Southboro want done. Was there lots of citizen clamor for a History Walk?
Time for some changes, Select Board. Although I’m not a fan of how we run DPW or manage the DPW Director, I’m of a mind that we get what we pay for. This seems like a big, complex function to be only paid $120k/year. A suggestion to SB if Ms. G is not renewed: maybe a higher pay grade would attract better talent? And if she is renewed, how about demanding that she receive written reviews from her boss with goals and objectives and specific performance metrics.
2 years ago

Gee, can’t imagine how the BOS will vote for an under performing DPW head, and an embarrassment of the appearance of the town. This town should look pristine for the taxes we pay, but where’s the money.

John Kendall
2 years ago

I’m in agreement with you. It’s time to cut the BS at town hall and find a new DPW director. And replace Mark Purple while we’re at it.

2 years ago

Dennington and BOS: When you shut down tonight’s BOS public comment of the citizens who put you in your seat, just because public opinion is opposing opinion, that is a direct assault on freedom of speech and First Amendment Rights. How un-American. How dismissive, ignorant, arrogant, and insulting to taxpayers who work hard to take time to inform and put forward legitimate management and business concerns.

It is ironic that the BOS is currently under scrutiny at the Supreme Judicial Court for the very same reason. This is deeply disturbing.

You should be listening to the public who elected you. Instead of reducing costs and helping your electorate, you support cover ups, misconduct and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. This town deserves better.

Al Hamilton
2 years ago

There seems to be a lot of “sturm und drang” on these pages about the performance of the Select Board. Ms. Malinowski’s and Ms. Braccio’s terms expire next May (5/8/23) and Mr. Dennington’s expires in 2024.

I can only assume that those so exercised about the performance of the Select Board will be putting forth a slate of candidates who’s policy positions are more in line with their own. I am not endorsing any particular candidate or position but our community would benefit from contested elections that offer the voters a choice.

Further, we must note that any ad hoc group that comes before any board is not the voice of the voters, it is only the voice of that particular group. The only place the voice of the voters is heard is at the ballot box. If you want the voters stamp of approval you have to run for office and ask for their votes. The Select Board members did this and so have the higher claim on being the voice of the voters. If you want to claim to represent the voters you have to get the voters to choose you at the ballot box.

Select Board Sinks Lower
2 years ago

Clearly, the folks who have power in this Town are afraid of Galligan and Purple. To renew the contract given Galligan’s obvious under performance and alleged misconduct (St Marks debacle and many others) is government mismanagement at minimum. The Select Board apparently believes Ms. Galligan is the best we can do for DPW Super and all we deserve as a Town. What a pathetic lack of leadership. Select Board, you are now on record acknowledging your own inability to stand up to incompetent bullies like Galligan and Purple. You voted YES. Not only do you avoid action against them, you vote them ongoing contracts and RAISES with our tax dollars. Your YES votes on Ms. Galligan last night was a direct public endorsement of her incompetence. Clearly, any possible impacts to the Town that might be caused by Galligan, past, present or future, are apparently perfectly fine with you. You asked no questions and gave her a raise! And as someone points out above, the public was largely ignored. Mr. Dennington pushed for a quick vote trying to shut down comment. It is beyond shameful all the way around and we, the voters, heard you loud and clear last night. You are a hopeless (spineless) bunch. As Mr. Hamilton points out – BALLOT BOX.

2 years ago

AMEN! Well said. Residents, as we move forward, please document your DPW issues in writing. Galligan does not take phone calls from or meet with constituents.

John Kendall
2 years ago

Karen’s park debacle. We don’t need one. They don’t care for what we have. Look at the Cordaville Park. Sprinkler lines exposed to the weather, the benches are filthy, and people throw trash all over the place. I asked Karen several times for a trash barrel, to no avail. A neighbor has taken it upon himself to pick up the trash and placed a barrel there. Ludicrous!

2 years ago

Some of the comments on multiple posts pertaining to Karen Galligan are a little over the top. But, when you put it all together it really is hard to understand why the Select Board continues to have confidence in her. Would it be so hard to communicate what it is that they see in her? The thing is, there are a slew of issues that are not even mentioned anywhere. I recently heard from parents of kids playing t ball how awful the field is since they added all the material to the infield. Someone is going to get hurt out there. That conversation led to thenew basketball court where there in not adequate drainage. Apparently it took over a year to clear the rocks around the perimeter and match the grade of the gras to the basketball surface. It seems like everytime a project outside of normal operations is done by the DPW, there is always an issue.

1 year ago
Reply to  Resident

The issues you talk about with the ball fields and the basketball court, should be addressed with the Recreation Director. Fields are under their umbrella not DPW. Usually the Rec Director is quick to fix anything that is not correct. Let him know what is wrong. If you have concerns, seek out the correct person to air them to, not here and not on FB as so many do. We all have a responsibility to make the correct officials aware when we see something blatant like that. The Rec Director is very approachable and takes immediate action when he can.

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