In the last fiscal year Plymouth's inspectional department conducted more than 17,000 inspections and issued 8,200 permits.
PLYMOUTH – Though the police and fire chiefs, the facilities manager and the assistant director of the DPW made separate presentations about their need for additional staff and supplemental funds at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen, it was the director of inspectional services, Paul McAuliffe, who made the winning argument for all.
McAuliffe was asking for $15,000 in order to make a part-time clerk into a full time employee and to make his case he cited two statistics: In the last fiscal year his department conducted more than 17,000 inspections and issued 8,200 permits.
“As you can see in my memo,” McAuliffe said, “there is a considerable amount of construction going on now.”
Cordage Park in North Plymouth, Redbrook in South Plymouth, and the new Fairfield Inn hotel in Colony Place - the list went on and on.
“I was at 45 Resnick Road (in the Plymouth Industrial Park),” McAuliffe said, “and I looked out the window and saw five new buildings going up.”
The Selectmen voted to recommend the new full time clerk’s position.
Police Chief Michael Botieri is asking for nine new police officers, to reach what consultants have estimated is the proper level for Plymouth, 128 total staff members.
“Plymouth is unique in many ways,” Botieri said, noting that the town has a nuclear power plant, an airport, a hospital and 36 miles of ocean shoreline.
In some years the police receive over 35,000 calls, he said. Whatever the challenges, Botieri said, the bottom line is the department’s commitment to “respond to 911 goals in a timely fashion; that’s the number one reason we are here.”
The Board of Selectmen recommended, with Selectman John Mahoney arguing for a lesser amount, hiring all those new officers.
Fire Chief Ed Bradley had two Town Meeting wishes: $470,000 to supplement his overtime budget, and approval of the hire of 12 new firefighters through the federal “SAFER” grant.
Below-optimum staffing levels in the department necessitate nearly $500,000 in supplemental overtime costs every year, Bradley explained, and without those funds he is often required to temporarily shut down stations and move firefighters and apparatus around.
He also asked the selectmen to accept the SAFER grant, a federal program that would result in the hire of the 12 firefighters.
It’s a three-year program that for two years pays for 75 percent of costs associated with the new hires which must, Bradley emphasized, supplement not supplant staff” for the first two years.
The third year the town would receive 35 percent of the cost of the firefighters.
Bradley argued that growth and other factors will only increase the number of calls for assistance that the Fire Department receives every year. The chief referenced one of McAuliffe’s building statistics.
“Three thousand five hundred new homes,” Bradley said, “are more than the total homes in 48 percent of all Massachusetts cities and town. Now that’s an impact.”
The Board voted to recommend both of Bradley’s requests.
Facilities Director Wayne Walkden appeared to have the hardest time convincing the Board of the worthiness of his supplemental requests for fall Town Meeting, though what he was arguing for were the tools and staff necessary to maintain what the town already has, its buildings.
He only recently, after seven months on the job, has been able to get a sense of what actually needs to be done, Walkden said.
Walkden is asking for $132,000 for an operations manager and a HVAC technician, a $7,500 tool allowance, a $15,000 increase in the budget for overhead doors (the town has 52 of them), and $5,000 for sprinkler inspection and servicing, plus additional funds for elevator, routine and preventative maintenance at Town Hall and supplies.
Selectman Shelagh Joyce asked Walkden which of the two positions – if he could only have one – he would choose?
Walkden didn’t bite; he has a dire need for both he said.
“I don’t have any technicians under me,” Walkden said. “No plumbers, electricians. I am asking for the basic, bottom line. Right now all we can do is fix things when they break. You can’t ask carpenters and custodians to do technical work.”
The selectmen recommended that Walkden’s department received the funds and staff he requested.
Also included in Article 2A was a request for supplemental funds for the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund to reflect changes that have occurred in curbside pickup and recycling.
After receiving assurances that, going forward, fees will recoup that shortfall the Board voted to recommend.
Follow Frank Mand on Twitter @frankmandOCM.