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Fairhaven is Standby ACO,

Town Drops Kennel Charges

Rochester Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry

The Rochester Board of Selectmen on August 31 approved an agreement with the Town of Fairhaven Animal Control Office to serve as a secondary animal shelter to the Town of Rochester.

Rochester Town Administrator Michael McCue said that, going along with the Town's general policy and his own personal policy, Fairhaven was chosen because of its position as a "no kill" animal shelter.

"It is a back-up situation with Fairhaven," said McCue. "We have no problems with the Lakeville Office," the animal shelter that currently serves the Town of Rochester.

McCue added that one of Rochester's Animal Control Department workers has been out on leave with medical issues, but he was happy to announce that the employee would be back to work within a week or so.

In other matters, the board briefly discussed the dropping of the criminal charges the Town filed against Liberal and Melinda Teixeira, owners of a North Avenue dog kennel that has been a matter of contention among the Teixeiras' neighbors and selectmen.

Criminal charges were dismissed, said McCue, based on information provided by the police chief and town counsel. Neighbor complaints have ceased, and the Teixeiras did pay fines totaling $100. In addition, they may no longer hold a license to operate a kennel under the current circumstances.

"The dogs are gone, except one nursing beagle," McCue stated. The beagle nursing six puppies, McCue said, will be registered with the Town as a family pet under Liberal Teixeira's name, and a golden retriever at the location will be registered and licensed as a family pet under Melinda's name.

McCue said the six puppies under the age of six months do not fall under the kennel licensing laws, and therefore may legally remain at the site until six months of age.

"[Neighbors] seem to be satisfied with the results," said McCue. "And the Court is now well aware of the situation," added McCue, so any future proceedings relative to dog complaints at the property might be expedited.

In other news, selectmen talked briefly about making changes to the personnel compensation plan, such as the removal of the compensation schedule, in hopes of saving the Town money by spreading out the time period in between new employees advancing employment "steps."

Selectmen and McCue agree that something has to be done to control annual pay increases, which average at about 3 percent per step advance, in addition to annual cost of living increases. McCue said employees are not only getting their step increases, but also anywhere from an additional 1 to 3 percent COLA increase.

"It would remove the concept of ... 'double-dipping,'" said McCue, although he stated that he was not totally comfortable with calling it that. "In all honesty, the whole plan needs to be rewritten."

"Absolutely," said Selectman Bradford Morse.

Selectmen said it would be a "fine-tuning" of the personnel plan, rather than a complete overhaul or total elimination of the plan, for that matter.

"We don't exactly know what's going to come out of it," said McCue.

Also during the August 31 meeting, McCue said he has not yet heard back from the Attorney General's Office regarding special legislation to allow the Annual Town Meeting to stand, despite the lack of a quorum.

Selectman Naida Parker, also the town clerk, said the AG Office had 90 days to respond to the Town, with a deadline date of October 5. Selectmen and McCue assume that, without any immediate response from the office expressing concern, selectmen expect the AG to allow the special legislation to proceed.

The board approved a new CORI check policy for new employee hires and town board and committee members and volunteers. Those requiring CORI checks will go through the Town Administrator's Office, which will work closely with the Police Department throughout the process.

The board also appointed Mattapoisett Selectman Paul Silva as the representative of the Tri-Town Selectmen during teacher negotiations with the ORR School Committee.

The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for September 14 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

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