SHIRLEY -- In a fast moving meeting, selectmen ran through a number of issues led off by the swearing in of the town's new chief of police.
The brief swearing-in ceremony was preceded at the Aug. 25 meeting by a vote from selectmen approving a new three-year contract for Thomas Goulden who took over as chief immediately following the board's decision.
"I look forward to working with the members of the board and the community and local business leaders," said Goulden in brief remarks following the ceremony. "My goal is to be open 24/7. I'm looking forward to starting."
Present for the vote was board Chairman David Swain and Selectman Kendra Dumont.
Fellow Selectman Robert Prescott was absent.
Goulden will replace former chief Greg Massak as well as his immediate predecessor, interim chief Robert Demoura.
Swain thanked Demoura for filling in for the two months since Massak's departure and for providing "insight and input" in the selection process.
Goulden will start his new job with a salary of $86,193, the same scale that Massak had before him.
In other business
Selectmen voted to appoint Holly Haase as the town's tax possession custodian.
The move came after Haase briefed board members on the state of the town's tax title cases saying that currently, the property tax scofflaws owe Shirley a total of $881,000.
Although one property owner recently came through with a payment of $109,000 that brought what he owed the town up to date, 16 more properties are under review by legal counsel.
"Hopefully, we'll hear some good things," said Haase. "And hopefully, we'll be able to move more (of the properties)."
Haase told selectmen that once properties have been cleared by counsel, she hopes to move them to public auction as soon as possible.
"It's better to be rid of these properties before winter comes," said Haase noting her discovery that the town need not wait a full year to move tax title properties as she had thought.
That said, she reported that up to five such properties are in the pipeline to be auctioned and suggested the town seek out a professional auctioneer to handle the sales.
"We need to get (these properties) back on the tax rolls," Haase concluded. "The town doesn't want to own property."
"We've got to start someplace," replied Swain.
Swain said that though there is no sense of urgency in disposing of the properties, the board's action on Aug. 25 does constitute a next step in an ongoing process of settling the issue of tax title properties.
Also at the Aug. 25 meeting, selectmen:
* Voted to appoint members to a new Regional Dispatch Review Ad Hoc Committee to explore the possibility of Shirley's participation in a regional dispatch cooperative in Devens.
* Voted to accept a conflict of interest exemption for the town. The decision was in response to a state mandate that all public employees, including volunteers, be subject to the conflict of interest law. But fearful that having to comply with the law could discourage volunteerism in town such as coaches for sports teams, lifeguards, police coverage from neighboring towns, seasonal workers and others, selectmen petitioned the state to allow exemptions for such workers. A change was eventually made allowing for the Aug. 25 exemption vote. Swain said that as many as 300 civic positions with no "governmental authority' will be covered by the exemption.
* Voted to approve a Conservation Commission forestry cost-sharing grant from the state totaling $4,000 for use in managing two parcels in town: 111 acres of open land off Hazen Road and 138 acres off Townsend Road.