LONGMEADOW – The Longmeadow Select Board met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 3 to interview candidates for several boards. In addition, they hosted a lengthy discussion about the town’s plans for the Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 budgets.
The largest talking point from the meeting was when Town Finance Director Paul Pasterczyk gave an update on the FY 2020 and 2021 budget projections. One of the new concerns for FY 2021 is the added recycling cost. He said, “There’s a $158,000 budget line item in the recycling and enterprise fund that was not there last year to start paying for the disposal of recyclables. No longer will we bringing them to the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) for free, and that adds to our challenges we have going on.”
Pasterczyk also discussed the possibility about raising the tax levy by 1.875 percent as opposed to the 1.75 rate goal for the 2021 fiscal year in order to be able to balance the budget. Council Vice Chair Richard Foster discussed his issues with their current ways of going about policy and the town’s spending habits. “We can’t keep growing, our budget and our community are not set up for it. We’re not getting enough growth in our community to keep up with our spending habits,” he said.
Another talking point during the budget discussion was eventually cutting benefits and salaries for town employees in the near future because nearly 80 percent of the budget goes toward salaries and benefits. Board Member Mark Gold said, “If we’re really 80 percent salaries and benefits the only way to make adjustments though that. That’s a discussion we can’t have in a theoretical setting it gets very emotional and its gonna be between jobs and each household paying more in taxes.”
During the meeting the select board interviewed candidates for positions with the Senior Housing Task Force, the Conservation Commission, and the Parks and Recreation department by asking each applicant why they would be a good fit for the boards they applied for, in a brief interview process.
Carol Steiner, one of the Senior Housing Task force applicants, explained that her experience working with seniors would be a benefit to the task force and said, “I thought I would be a good fit as I’ve worked with seniors for many years. I visit seniors in their homes, I know about the different housing options in town and I am aware of certain needs that seniors have in this community.”
The second applicant for the Task Force, Roger Wojick, said, “Housing itself is quite an issue and as a member of the board of trustees for the condo unit I’m associated with, we’re finding out now were 25 years out of date and possibly out of compliance with the regulations and we’ll get through that.”
Kiernan Mulcahy, the lone applicant for the Conservation Commission, said, “I grew up here and fell in love with the nature and the wilderness and I developed a passion to keep pursuing protecting it. And I think something along the lines of working where I grew up and possibly caring about it even more is an opportunity I’d like to take.”
The final interviewee of the night, Craig Pericolosi who applied for the Parks and Rec Department, explained his desire to work for the department came from his daughters that use the town’s athletic fields. “I’m living in Longmeadow with my twin girls and we’re always outside as a big active family. I just thought this would be an opportunity to give back and stay in tune with the community,” he said.
The select board will make their final decision on each applicant with a vote at its next meeting on Feb. 18.
During her regular report Town Manager Lyn Simmons announced that applications were now open for the opening police chief position once Chief Stankiewicz retires at the end of February. She said, “I did work out a last day for Chief Stankiewicz which will be Feb. 29. Immediately following that Captain Fontaine will be appointed interim police chief while we conduct the search process.”
After Simmons’ report, Assistant Treasurer and Tax Collector Amy Nelson came before the board to give an update on the town’s investments from October to December 2019. She explained that the town was doing well in terms of its investments from bonds and said, “There was a net increase of $12,477,036 in cash and investments for the quarter, and that was a result of the new bond proceeds.”
With the meeting’s larger issues out of the way, the select board unanimously approved the warrant for the Presidential Primary election in March. Immediately following this discussion, Simmons brought up the idea of potentially using the former adult center as a new regional dispatch center and the board unanimously approved her request to talk with WESTCOMM.
The final order of business at the meeting was the discussion of a draft of the new ambulance policy. After a brief discussion the select board voted to approve the changes to the Ambulance Policy draft.
The Longmeadow Select Board will next meet on Feb. 18.