The Rochester Board of Selectmen likes how it’s going as a member of the Duxbury-hosted Regional Old Colony Communications Center and anticipates a renewal of its inter-municipal agreement (IMA).
ROCCC provides 911 police, fire, and EMS emergency dispatch service for six towns, as Director Michael Mahoney told the selectmen during their March 1 hybrid meeting that Hanover is joining the group that also includes Halifax, Hanson, and Plympton.
Mahoney proposed a six-month extension of the current contract in order to synch its expiration with the end of Fiscal Year 2021. Mahoney said the IMA, a five-year run drafted to expire on January 1, 2022, is “an oversight on our part; we should have carried it through to July.”
ROCCC is hoping to bring all its members into synch, establishing a new IMA for all six towns on July 1, 2022, the start of FY23. Mahoney anticipates two- or three-year agreements.
“Most of the towns start doing their budgets mid-fiscal year for the following year,” said Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar. Mahoney said, “I’m open to whatever it takes…. We’re not waiting to the last minute by any means…. My concern is we land on that uniformity…. This way, we’ll be able to address them all at the same time. I’ll make sure everybody has what they need, so they’re not up against any budgeting deadlines.”
Selectman Woody Hartley noted that Rochester had targeted a budget date around April 1.
Mahoney updated a new receiver at the site in the Braley Hill side of Rochester priced out at $50,000. Mahoney also pointed to a $4 million competitive development grant and said he wouldn’t know if ROCCC is awarded that grant until July or August.
“Anything up at that end of town would be helpful,” said Rochester Chief of Police Robert Small, who also noted that switching to Motorola equipment has helped mitigate problems.
Mahoney said he expected the project would have been completed by now if not for the coronavirus pandemic.
In her Town Administrator’s report, Szyndlar discussed the assessment that Rochester received last week from Bristol County Agricultural High School. Rochester is not a member town, and the town is dissatisfied with an interpretation of a 2018 legislation that non-residents pay for Bristol Aggie’s debt.
“The response is because we’re not a member, and they’re trying to pass on costs. Passing on the debt strikes me as double-dipping,” said Town Counsel Blair Bailey.
Szyndlar told the selectmen she had asked Bristol Aggie for its agreement with its member towns. “They claim it reflects school choice. I do not know what they charge for the [member-town] students,” she said. “I don’t recommend that we put in any appropriation.”
Hartley explained that member towns pay a county assessment, then pay the school a smaller cost. “The costs are well hidden. It’s even hard to research their budget,” he said, crediting Szyndlar for her effort trying to research the matter on Rochester’s behalf.
In a 6:05 pm appointment, the selectmen voted to approve a street name request made by the Village at Plumb Corner, a new 55+ residential development with new public ways to be called Sarahbeth Lane, Katlyn Circle, and Hayley Circle.
Rochester has learned that FY21 annual Chapter 90 state funding for road projects will be set at $308,083 pending final passage, an increase over last year’s $302,161 total.
SEMASS Covanta will distribute $10,000 this week in FY21 outreach money per the agreement. The selectmen annually review requests and appropriate funds for various community projects according to departmental needs. Last year, the money was put on hold at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The selectmen voted to accepted public safety donations from the Annie Maxim House, Inc. for $100 each for the Police, Fire, Highway, and Ambulance Departments.
Szyndlar told the board she would attend the Massachusetts Municipal Accountants and Auditors Association meeting on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and next to maintain her annual certification as a governmental accountant. The meeting is virtual this year.
In a 6:00 pm appointment, the selectmen voted to approve Small’s recommendation that Brian Delmonte be appointed as a full-time police officer.
Delmonte, a Bridgewater resident and 2016 graduate of Bridgewater-Raynham High School, recently graduated from the full-time police academy. He joined the Marines and was deployed to Southeast Asia. He is an active participant at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Bridgewater and volunteers at Bridgewater’s Senior Center. Delmonte graduated last month from the state police academy in New Braintree and is working toward a degree in criminal justice.
Bailey said that an in-person ceremony with Delmonte and his family would be held when possible.
Selectman Brad Morse said that, while Rochester’s new association with Marion in the use of its Benson Brook transfer station has been successful, he is still meeting with the Board of Health on a Plan B. “We’re still talking about getting land surveyed just to see if we could do something,” he said. The survey would be funded through the town’s recycling revolving fund.
Hartley told the selectmen that The New York Times recognized 2020 Wanderer Keel Award winner Kelsey Robertson as one of the nation’s kids who make a difference. The selectmen responded to the news by exclaiming, “Well done. Kelsey!”
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Monday, March 15, at 6:00 pm.
Rochester Board of Selectmen
By Mick Colageo