Marion’s grant writer was given one more year to produce more grant money for the Town after selectmen voted March 18 to leave the grant writer in the FY15 budget, despite the Finance Committee’s recommendation to abolish the position.
Selectman Jonathan Henry has advocated on behalf of Development Specialist Pamela Marean ever since FinCom sent a memorandum to the selectmen asking them to consider cutting Marean’s position from the budget. FinCom said in the memo, and during a March 13 joint meeting with selectmen, that the amount of grant money has not increased as anticipated since Marean was hired two years ago.
Henry cautioned the selectmen to think carefully before making a final decision.
“Common sense will tell you it wouldn’t take very many grants to offset … the money that’s expended for this purpose,” said Henry. He acknowledged that Marean had a more productive first year than her second year culling for grants, saying it was due to the economy and the fluctuating availability of grant money. He said that is just “the nature of the animal.”
“I think in a time of austerity it’s even more important,” stated Henry, “to go after these things … I think it’s bad timing…”
Just give it one more year, Henry suggested to the board. And maybe tweak the position, change the management, and give Marean a chance to deliver.
Selectman Stephen Cushing concurred, saying, “It may not bear fruit right off the bat … I’m willing to give this one more year and we’ll visit it again.”
“Some towns would give their left arm for a grant writer,” said Henry.
Chairman Jonathan Dickerson was somewhat reluctant when it was his turn to speak.
“You gotta admit, though, we haven’t gotten the most bang for our buck,” said Dickerson with a shrug, before acquiescing to the other selectmen.
“One more year,” Dickerson stated after the unanimous vote to keep the grant writer.
Also during the meeting, Robert Zora from the Water Committee briefed selectmen on the plan to replace the Great Hill water tower, which will be featured as an article on the warrant and presented at Town Meeting.
The two-million gallon water tower will be replaced with a one-million gallon tower that is similar in design, but superior in technology than the current tower that was built in 1965.
An inspection back in 2004 showed the tank needed repairs, but Zora said, at this point, it is a wiser investment to demolish the old one and replace it with a new one. He said downsizing to a smaller tank would result in cleaner drinking water and provide ample storage of water.
The cost to replace the water tower is approximately $96,000.
In other business, the board approved the police chief’s request to require a permit for door-to-door solicitors in an attempt to control the activities, while keeping tabs on the whos, whats, wheres, and whys of solicitors in Marion.
The board approved the chief’s $20 permit fee, and solicitors will be required to carry this permit on their person while conducting their business in town. The permit will be valid for one year and only applies to commercial solicitors; not religious groups, political groups, or Girl Scouts.
Also approved was the building commissioner’s request to charge potential applicants who want to conduct a plan review prior to applying for a building permit a $25 fee.
Town Administrator Paul Dawson said Building Commissioner Scott Shippey often puts in several hours consulting with residents and reviewing their plans and, many times, these individuals do not follow through with the application process.
“Just to make sure it’s only serious people,” said Dawson about the reason behind the new $25 fee.
The fee will be non-refundable, but it will be applied to the building permit fee should the applicant move forward with the project.
Lastly, Dawson briefed the board on a two and a half-hour conference call that he, the treasurer, and the finance director had with representatives from Standard and Poor’s Rating Services on March 14 where the discussion was mainly about monitoring the Town’s bond rating in anticipation of a tentative future upgrade.
Dawson said the feedback was positive, and an upgrade would save the Town millions of dollars over the years when borrowing money for capital projects.
The public hearing for Wave Restaurant was continued until April 1 to allow for the proper notification of abutters.
The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is April 1 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
By Jean Perry