HAMPSTEAD – The Hampstead Board of Selectmen received the recommendation from the Town Administrative Study Committee with very few questions at their Monday Nov. 28 evening meeting.
The committee recommended changing the Selectmen’s Administrative Assistant position title to Town Administrator, saying, “This more properly reflects the degree of responsibility already vested in that position.”
Neil Lynch, vice-chair of the committee, told the board the committee had been formed at their request and charged with determining where a need exists in Hampstead for a Town Administrator or Town Manager.
That BOS request resulted from Board Chair Sean Murphy raising this issue almost a year ago, after which he himself attempted to put together a job description supporting his thinking that change was needed. The board ended up wanting a more non-biased opinion and the committee was formed.
The committee looked at several options including whether the administrative position needed more authority as well as the title change, and whether there should be a subsequent interview process or the Town Administrator function should be in addition to the present Administrative Assistant position.
The report, developed by committee member Vivian Clark, noted there are current existing issues in communication, delays in action, inadequate review for department heads, and purchase issues.
“A great deal of responsibility has been included in the job description for the Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectmen, but very little authority has been granted to it…We believe these problems can be ameliorated, and the day-to-day operation of town affairs made more efficient, if the Board of Selectmen will adopt and implement the following changes,” she stated.
Those changes included recognizing that the proper functions of the Board of Selectmen are to set policy, establish budgets, approve bids and contracts, provide advice and supervision for town administration, and to deal with unexpected events. The committee proposed changing the current position title to Town Administrator and increasing the level of authority, in particular that the Town Administrator would be the liaison between the BOS and department heads and would assist the department heads with budget and report preparation and have the authority to approve expenditures within the budget that do not require going out to bid. Department heads would sign off on purchases up to $2,500 and Town Administrator would sign off on purchases between $2,500 and $5,000. The Town Administrator would perform all of the other actions included in the proposed Town Administrator job description, which was also given to the BOS to review.
The BOS members had no specific questions but asked for time to digest the recommendations and the accompanying job description. Murphy asked if the committee would return at the next meeting and also asked that a copy of the job description be provided that indicated the proposed changes in bold face for easier comparison. The BOS also wanted to check with Town Counsel about whether the BOS can actually approve a change such as is recommended or whether it would need to go to the general public for a Town Meeting vote. BOS member Priscilla Lindquist said there was a warrant article approved by the voters regarding such changes so they definitely need to check with Town Counsel.
In other business:
The Board of Selectmen approved Police Chief Joe Beaudoin’s request to allow Animal Control to purchase two radios at a cost of $4,259.54 with money available within her budget; Beaudoin’s request that PT scheduled Officer Jim Champion be allowed to join the Union; and, approved Beaudoin purchasing a new unmarked cruiser out of his 2016 budget at a cost of $25,188.
The BOS took under advisement Beaudoin’s request to allow the department to develop and have a Facebook page that would be controlled by Sgt. Robert Kelley. The board requested time to review it and Beaudoin said he had questions regarding friending and de-Ffiending he wanted answered before approval. Murphy wanted it reviewed by Town Counsel and Beaudoin agreed.
The board approved a contract with Brox Paving to repair Emerson Avenue with a contingency: Brox would perform the repair amounting to roughly $4,500 and the town would retain five percent of the total Brox Emerson Avenue contract amount, or about $12,492, until repairs are completed if Brox agreed to cover the cost the town had to assume to do the testing on the Emerson Avenue job. If Brox refuses to cover testing cost the town would retain 10 percent of the total amount or roughly $25,000 until all repairs are completed.
The board requested Road Agent Jon Worthen provide detailed lease and rental costs for both the John Deere and Komatsu loaders he is interested in purchasing or leasing before any decision is made. Worthen recommended the John Deere five-year lease at $26,988 annually and said he had money in his budget to go toward the first year lease or rental.
HASB told the BOS they are asking for the selectmen’s support in trying to get a scoreboard for field two at Holiday Lane and that the Recreation Commission supports the effort. The BOS took it under advisement until they could consult with Code Enforcement Officer Kris Emerson.
Lt. Col. (Ret) Howie Steadman, speaking on behalf of the Patriotic Purposes committee, asked the board to approve the changes in veterans’ eligibility for discounted property tax contained in the recently passed House Bill 430. He said he sought the board’s support for a warrant article seeking the approval of town meeting voters for the change to the town regulations matching the new state regulation regarding eligibility of veterans for the property tax discount.
The board approved Selectmen’ Administrative Assistant Sally Theriault making a Flexible Spending Account payment for unused member money to pay for the town’s cost of the program and the rest to be pro-rationed disbursement to the six members, and Theriault told the board she had received two bids on upgrading the meeting room curtains and blinds of between $4,000 and $5,000 and would keep them informed.