Select Board Selects . . .

While the Select Board conducted many items of business during its Monday, June 15, 2020 meeting, none was more important than the selection of our next Town Administrator. 

A brief recap: at last Monday’s meeting, Community Paradigm Associates, the firm hired to assist with the search, presented three finalists selected by the Holliston Screening Committee.  The Board interviewed each of the three finalists on Friday, June 12, 2020. 

Town Administrator Appointment:

Each Board member put forward their ranking of the three candidates sharing reasoning for their first choice.  Travis Ahern was selected over two other finalists, Kate Hodges, and Thomas Gregory.  The Board acknowledged the strengths that each of the finalists have to offer.  In the end, it was Mr. Ahern’s financial experience that tilted the decision in his favor.

The Board voted 2 – 1 to offer Ahern the Town Administrator position subject to successful employment agreement negotiations.

Following the call to order by Select Board Chair, Mark Ahronian at 7:00 pm, the first order of business was the weekly update from Emergency Management Director, Fire Chief Michael Cassidy.

COVID-19 Update: Chief Cassidy reported:

  • No new cases of COVID-19 this week (56 total cases, 51 recovered, 2 fatalities, and 3 active cases)
  • Working with all departments on a phased re-opening of Town offices
    • The Library has chosen curbside pickup because patrons can’t currently browse
    • Employees will receive on-line training about return-to-work changes and precautions
  • With Town Clerk, Liz Greendale, he is focused on making next week’s town election as safe as possible
  • Many options for Town Meeting on July 20, 2020 are still being explored
  • In response to a question from John Cronin, the Chief reported that Holliston is “in the middle of the pack” in relation to reopening in other towns.  Cassidy stressed that Town services continue with the current safety precautions in place.

Mr. Ahronian thanked Chief Cassidy (all of Holliston’s public safety personnel) for the “superlative job” he has done to manage this crisis on behalf of the Town.

Warrants: The Board approved warrants totaling, $3,397,488.61.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein, as Clerk of the Board, read a ‘year-in-review’ summary of the Select Board’s work.  The entire list will be posted on the Town’s website and will be shared via the Holliston Reporter in the near future.
  • Hein also reported that the Town’s 1/12 budget was approved by the State Dept of Revenue and that our CARES Act grant application was submitted.
  • Mr. Cronin – no comment
  • Mr. Ahronian thanked Donna Muzzy for stepping up to fill in for Andrea and cover the Town Administrator’s office Mon – Wed each week when Mr. Ritter is on vacation.
  • No comments from the public were shared.

Report of the Town Administrator:  Jeff Ritter, shared the following from his remote location:

  • 260 Woodland Street debris removal will begin this Wednesday.  Thanks to Facilities Manager, James Keast this project came in well under budget.
  • Pinecrest clubhouse doors will be done
  • Senator Spilka and Representative Dykema will participate in next week’s Select Board meeting
  • DPW Director, Sean Reese will attend next week’s meeting to complete Water Rate Hearing and discuss the water treatment plant project.

Board Business:

  • Annual Appointments, the Board accepted the list as amended following a reading by Clerk Tina Hein.
  • Several budget transfers between departments were approved by the Board.  The seven transfers totaled: $102,320 and were achieved by moving budget surpluses from one department to another.  Next week the Board will address several other transfers that move monies within a department.  The entire list of transfers with associated backup will be forwarded to the Finance Committee by Town Accountant Sharon Emerick on Tuesday (today).
  • Annual Town Meeting Warrant, the Board continued its work to refine the twenty-eight articles in the Warrant.  The Board directed Mr. Ritter to get the most current cleaned up draft of the Warrant to the Finance Committee as soon as possible.
  • Len Engel and Scott McKechnie were appointed to the Governance Committee for a one-year term.  The committee now has five of its seven members.
  • The June 1, 2020 meeting minutes were approved.

Any Other Business:

  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Alerted the Board that the Holliston Community Action Fund and / or the Youth & Family Services department might offer a proposal for expending CARES Act funding through their work.
    • MassDOT announced a new program, Shared Streets and Spaces, a funding program to reconfigure existing infrastructure to provide more social distancing space for businesses and recreation.
  • Mr. Cronin – None
  • Mr. Ahronian:
    • Requested that the Town’s Capital Request Policy be placed on next week’s agenda
    • Requested that the School Committee formally present its Capital Request at next week’s meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:43 pm.

Chris Cain

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