CHESTER – Though the board of selectmen has taken significant steps in working with the Town of Raymond to co-hire a building inspector/code enforcement officer for part-time work in both towns, current Chester inspector Thom Roy has told the board that he doubts his job can be done in 20 hours a week.
Selectmen recently approved of a contract with Raymond for the hire, the first step in a process that would see candidates for the position sought and interviewed. The plan is to share the employee’s 40 hours 50/50 between the towns.
Throughout selectmen’s meetings on the matter the board has stated that Roy has made his intentions to retire known and some selectmen have said that moving forward, a joint agreement between the two towns could save significant money.
In addition to pointing out that the position he holds is completely offset by revenues, Roy said at the board’s Thursday, Nov. 5 meeting that the town was too busy to slim down his role.
Roy has not been present for previous discussions on the issue.
At last week’s meeting Roy, though stating that any decision on the matter was in the selectmen’s purview, was clear that he knew his job and was doubtful that all of the duties currently incumbent on Chester’s position could be handled in half the time he’d been handling them.
In addition to building inspector duties, the position in Chester also handles code enforcement as well as electrical, septic and plumbing inspector duties.
“It’s interesting that you think you can do the job in a part-time role,” said Roy.
The inspector said there was sometimes a line extending out of his office, and single family home construction was ongoing in town. He said he suspected slimming down the hours of his job would translate into a lack of service for Chester residents and builders.
“I think it would be a service inconsistency to go part time for Chester,” said Roy, noting not only development but all of the trade-specific permits he handles, from photovoltaic to generator installation.
Selectman Dick Trask has been heading up the plan to co-hire and stated that if the position couldn’t be handled in 20 hours, the town could contract out for the other roles (electrical, plumbing, septic), as he had heard has been done in other towns.
Roy was skeptical of this idea as well, saying he knew such a thing was done, but to his knowledge only in larger municipalities, like Manchester.
The building inspector said that while the board could decide to go that route, it wasn’t the job description and plan they currently had set up, a position that Roy laid the foundation for in his five years with the town. He also pointed out that while selectmen noted that the cooperation with Raymond could save the town money, that savings would quickly erode when the other duties were contracted out.
Roy also noted that by law his job is not intended to be a money maker for the town and if the town saw such savings, it would likely be required of the selectmen to lower the fees charged for the services.
Selectman chair Steph Landau said he was not yet sold on the co-hire with Raymond but he saw a benefit to some administrative help in the building inspector’s office, which might be more feasible with the plan.
As stated Nov. 5 for the first time, Roy is looking to retire by Feb. 10 of the coming year, though he said he’s flexible with the date, depending on where the town is in hiring a replacement.