Board seeks additional public works employee

BEACON FALLS — The Board of Selectmen is hoping to add some depth to the public works ranks to help with snow removal.

There are seven positions authorized within the street division of the Public Works Department. The town has only been funding six positions for the past few years and one worker is out on medical leave. That leaves five able-bodied workers to plow snow heading into winter, according to officials.

“That is going to have an effect on increasing the amount of time that each driver is going to spend on the road covering the routes because now they are picking up pieces of what the other one used to do,” First Selectman Christopher Bielik said Dec. 18 during a special meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

The board voted to propose hiring a seventh worker for the street division to the Board of Finance.

“We don’t know when the weather is going to hit us and we’re down a man,” Selectman Michael Krenesky. “Just losing one guy makes a big difference. Especially when your whole crew is just seven to begin with.”

The employee, if hired, would come into the department as a maintainer 1, officials said. According to the public works contract, a maintainer 1 makes $27.81 an hour.

Bielik said the money to pay for the employee for the rest of this fiscal year would come out of the town’s fund balance.

The board also discussed the possibility of offering the employee out on medical leave, who was not identified, an incentive to retire early. That way, Bielik said, if the finance board only wants to fund six positions it can continue to do so.

The other option the town has is to have employees working at the wastewater treatment plant plow the roads, Bielik said. However, that would cause a negative impact at the plant, he said.

“Pulling people out of [the wastewater treatment plant] to put them on the road means more work for the one or two people left behind, which means more overtime for them. So there is going to be a domino effect of making this decision,” Bielik said.

The board agreed to bring the issue before the Board of Finance during a special meeting so the town could hire the person as soon as possible.

“I’m not sure I want to wait until the next regularly scheduled meeting because the longer we wait on this because people who are qualified may already be hired in other capacities. We may already be late to the party, so to speak, and the longer we wait the later we are,” Bielik said.

A special meeting had not been scheduled as of this post. Board of Finance Chairman Joe Rodorigo said last week that he looks forward to reviewing the proposal, but could not comment on it until the finance board is able to look it over.