After narrowing it down to two candidates, Rochester selectmen on June 16 held final interviews for the two finalists to replace Town Administrator Richard LaCamera, and then chose current Town of Avon Town Administrator Michael McCue over Newburyport’s Director of Policy and Administration Peter Lombardi.
After concluding the interviews, Selectman Richard Nunes was first to speak up in favor of McCue because he has experience working as a town administrator for a smaller town, saying he thought McCue’s transition to Rochester would be more “seamless.” Plus, he added, he only lives 40 minutes away.
“[Lombardi] is personable, smart, and knowledgeable,” said Nunes, “but I just think it’s a different system where he’s coming from…”
“It’s a small town and Avon is a small town,” concurred Selectman Naida Parker, who thought McCue was a better fit for the Town. “You’re not going to get anyone like Richard (LaCamera),” she added. “You bring something to the table that is unique,” Parker told Town Administrator Richard LaCamera during his last official Board of Selectmen meeting.
Chairman Bradford Morse favored Lombardi and abstained from voting after Nunes made the motion to appoint McCue.
McCue told selectmen, “I’m the type of person that believes it’s always worth a second look,” he said describing his experience with budget issues. “I believe the budget in any town … is the reflection of the policy of the board and Town Meeting.”
The appointment is subject to contract negotiations, and McCue would begin by August 1 should he accept the position.
Also during the meeting, selectmen received a presentation from ABC Disposal, Inc. representatives before signing the ten-year contract for automated trash and recycling services from ABC.
Residents will receive a 65-gallon cart for trash and a 95-gallon cart for single stream recycling. Trash pick-up will continue on a weekly basis, and recycling will be picked up every other week – both on Friday.
Once the final design is approved, ABC will mail an informational flyer to Rochester residents detailing the new process that is slated to begin on January 1.
LaCamera said the Town would save $15,000 the first year and $17,000 the second year, making the contract “well worth the investment in this program.”
In other news, Standard & Poor’s Rating Service issued a summary dated May 21 explaining why it increased Rochester’s bond rating from “AA” to AA+,” citing a strong economy, strong financial management, very strong budgetary flexibility, and the Town’s “strong debt and contingent liabilities position.”
“Basically, they said the Town has done an outstanding job,” said LaCamera.
LaCamera was, however, disappointed that the Town’s bond rating was not raised to the coveted “AAA” rating, frankly stating that it was because the assessors didn’t send the tax bills out in time, resulting in the Town having to borrow short-term money.
“The bond rating itself is very good,” said LaCamera. “We can’t complain about that.”
Also during the meeting, Sharon Lally from the Council on Aging presented a sketched floor plan of the proposed new layout of the Senior Center on Dexter Lane, highlighting a larger-sized activities room for the placement of fitness equipment, something Lally said COA members have been requesting for some time.
Lally said the COA had acquired a full set of fitness equipment from a fitness club that went out of business.
“Any costs that we incur from this … is going to come out of the Council on Aging donations account,” said Lally. The only cost to the Town, she said, would be the work hours Town Facilities Manager Andrew Daniel spends assisting with the renovation.
LaCamera pointed out that an engineer would be required to design the handicap accessible walkway leading out from the proposed activities room into the parking lot, and a trained staff member must be assigned to remain in the room during all times that guests are using the fitness equipment.
The board approved the plan as presented, and Lally said renovations should begin some time in July.
School Superintendent Doug White asked the board to support potentially leasing out vacant space at Rochester Memorial Elementary School in accordance with the Rochester School Committee’s building use policy.
The space would be rented at $75 per day plus a $25 utilities fee, and only educational programs would be allowed to lease the classroom space at RMS.
The board agreed with White that the space should be leased on a year-to-year basis to see how it goes, and to monitor the population fluctuation at RMS that might require the classroom space in the future.
Before adjourning, LaCamera brought to the attention of the board a sum of $1,035,000 in money to repair roadways, which has “been sitting there” for far too long. He said residents are asking when road repairs will begin, and LaCamera advocated that the taxpayers have a right to know the details on when and what will happen regarding road repairs.
LaCamera thanked the board for their support during his years working for the Town of Rochester, saying, “It’s been a terrific opportunity for me … I’ve met some great people. This is a great town.”
“Enjoy your retirement, it’s well deserved,” said Morse.
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for June 30 at 6:30 pm at Town Hall.
By Jean Perry