At their Dec. 6 meeting, Vassalboro selectmen finally approved the police chief’s job description they have been revising for the last couple months, with one final revision.
They also approved Town Manager Mary Sabins’ plan for a town staff pre-Christmas party.
Otherwise, they continued discussion of ongoing items, like emergency services dispatching, the role of the Budget Committee and potential solar power development and added a new – and expensive – topic, the Public Works Department’s aged grader and other needs.
The dispatching issue matters to emergency services in most Kennebec County municipalities because of proposed changes at the county and state level. Sabins expected to have more information for the selectmen’s Dec. 20 meeting, after a Kennebec County Commissioners’ meeting and a county town managers’ meeting at which she hopes the issue will be discussed.
At previous meetings, selectmen have been given preliminary information suggesting that in 2019-20 the cost of dispatching fire, rescue and police services could double, from about $30,000 a year to about $60,000 a year.
Public Works Foreman Eugene Field told selectmen the town’s 1991 grader needs a major repair that will cost around $23,000, plus $1,400 trucking to the repair shop, and should have another $5,000 to $10,000 worth of minor repairs while it’s being worked on.
A new grader would cost around $240,000, he said, a used one from $50,000 up, rental a little over $3,000 a week if a rental grader were available when the town crew needed it. Field and crew members use the grader for unpaved roads spring and fall, and it serves as a back-up for the plow trucks in case one breaks down.
Field also warned selectmen two large culverts need major work, either replacement or repair.
The discussion ended with selectmen commenting that Fields’ problems are even more expensive than the dispatching services they’ve been worrying about.
Budget Committee Chairman Rick Denico asked how that committee’s role is defined, pointing out that last year’s pre-town-meeting discussions strayed into policy issues, like considering whether to abolish the local police department rather than merely how much it should cost.
Vassalboro residents apparently established the committee many years ago without a job description or other rules, Sabins said.
Board member John Melrose has been looking into the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof of the Riverside Fire Station. He said he received one proposal that afternoon.
Melrose suggested selectmen ask town meeting voters for authorization to proceed with exploring the topic. If voters approve, he wants to look into more than one option, as competition appears to be developing.
The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Dec. 20.