Two town employees submitted signed disclosures of financial interest with the Town on June 5, to make these financial interests known publically to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Fire Chief Scott Weigel, who has been the fire chief for the Town of Rochester since 2009, also owns an auto repair shop that performs minor repairs on Town vehicles on an as-needed non-contractual basis.
Weigel has been providing vehicle repair services to the Town since 1997 before he was appointed as the fire chief, but he did join the fire department in 1976.
Town Counsel Blair Bailey said Weigel’s status as a “special employee” of the Town allows him to maintain his position while his business also benefits financially from the Town as long as Weigel’s supervisors, the Board of Selectmen, allow him to do so.
“An actual conflict would be direct financial benefit in violation of the law,” said Bailey during a follow-up interview. “For this, he is a ‘special employee’ and exempt from certain conflicts (with selectmen approval).”
The State Ethics Commission required Weigel to fill out and submit a form disclosing his business dealings with the Town.
Bailey said Weigel performs only minor repairs to police and Highway Department vehicles at a good rate, and for projects well under the bidding requirement threshold.
Treasurer Cynthia Mello also submitted a disclosure of financial interest since the Town maintains $750,000 in an account with a bank that currently employs Mello’s husband as a vice president. She has been submitting this disclosure since 2009.
“As long as it’s legit, it’s legit,” said Selectman Greenwood Hartley, who requested a confirmation in writing of Mello’s correspondence with State Ethics.
The selectmen held off on accepting the disclosure until Mello submits written proof that she consulted with the State Ethics Commission, along with her disclosure form, but selectmen expect to accept the disclosure at a later date.
In other matters, the board appointed Meghan Birnie as a part-time police officer. Birnie, a Mansfield resident, received the top score on the recent entrance exam and has completed all the requirements of the hiring process.
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for June 12 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
Rochester Board of Selectmen
By Jean Perry