Stronger town admin., ambulance repairs on Northfield warrant
NORTHFIELD — Town voters will decide whether to increase the town administrator’s responsibilities or stay the course at a Monday special town meeting.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in Pioneer Valley Regional School.
A new town administrator job description proposed would make the position the chief administrator of the town, running its day-to-day business under the Selectboard’s guidance.
The description would give the town administrator more power. The position would supervise all town employees, including department heads. The administrator would also serve as town liaison to and other government officials, as well as town counsel and other advisors to the town.
The Selectboard recently created a new pay grade to compensate a more empowered administrator. Offering more money, the board decided, would attract more qualified candidates.
If the new description is approved, the town administrator would make $61,287 at the lower end of grade 15, and $74,875 at the top.
Previous town administrator Thomas Hutcheson was paid $50,829 for his second and final year with the town.
Kevin Paicos, who served as interim town manager, told the board a good town administrator should be able to seek out and obtain grant funding in amounts exceeding the suggested salary.
The town has been without a permanent administrator since Hutcheson left in August. When Hutcheson left, the Town Governance Study Committee asked the Selectboard to hold off on hiring a permanent replacement, so the committee could work on revamping the position.
Selectboard Chairman John “Jack” Spanbauer had said that, if the new description is approved, the town could have a new permanent administrator by February at the earliest.
A related article seeks $1,000 to cover the increased town administrator pay-rate for the balance of the fiscal year.
Northfield could have a second ambulance in service by springtime if another article is passed.
The Emergency Medical Services Department seeks voters’ approval to use $15,000 of department funds to fix up a free ambulance.
The EMS Department recently received a used ambulance, donated by the town of Rochester.
Ambulance repairs and equipment would be paid for by money in the department’s enterprise fund. That fund currently sits at about $47,000, according to EMS Chief Mark Fortier.
Fortier expects not to need all $15,000 for the ambulance, but said he’d rather return the extra to the account than to ask for a lower amount and come up short.
The EMS is a self-sustaining department. It bills patients for services rendered, and deposits revenue into the enterprise fund. The account is used to fund the department’s annual budget and other expenses.
Fortier said the ambulance could be fixed up and ready for inspection by the state Office of Emergency Services by February, and put into service shortly thereafter.
According to Fortier, a second ambulance would allow Northfield EMTs to respond to two calls at once, rather than transferring calls to other ambulance services. Fortier said this will improve response time and patient care, and provide increased revenue for the department to use toward future service improvements.
Voters will also decide whether to fund $4,000 to repair or replace deteriorating plaster ceilings in sections of the library.