GROTON -- In what could prove to be the final word on the retention of a Personnel Board, a committee charged with studying its role in municipal government submitted its recommendations to selectmen.

Representing the By-law Review Committee, Town Clerk Michael Bouchard outlined the group's findings Monday. Among the recommendations are those covering membership of the Personnel Board, its powers and duties, and its role in grievance procedures to be followed by employees with complaints.

The issue of reinstituting the defunct Personnel Board was first raised by Selectman Jack Petropoulos earlier in the year after he pointed out that although selectmen had voted to discontinue the board, it still exists on paper.

Residents at a subsequent Town Meeting, while voting to adopt a new Town Charter, failed to support the discontinuance, leaving the need for a Personnel Board on the books and covered by a still-existing bylaw.

That bylaw was not recognized by selectmen, who have never acted to appoint any members to the board or advertised its existence.

It was Petropoulos' contention, raised at the board's meeting of Feb. 25, that the town needs the board to handle such issues as resignations and complaints that surface from time to time.

After some deliberation, a By-law Review Committee was formed.

Among its recommendations was that a newly constituted Personnel Board be allowed to advise the town on employee wage and classification schedules, and be a part of formal grievance procedures.


The need for a Personnel Board, however, has grown less acute since the institution of the By-law Review Committee. Since then, many of the bylaw employees who would have relied on the board to handle their grievances have unionized, leaving only three employees in all of town government who would have recourse to the board's services.

An article on the warrant for the upcoming fall Town Meeting, scheduled for Oct. 21, will ask residents to approve the Review Committee's recommendations.

Also Monday, selectmen were given their first look at the warrant for Town Meeting.

In addition to the Personnel Board measure, there are 22 other articles on the warrant, including a number dealing with Squannacook Hall in West Groton.

Selectmen have made efforts to find a buyer for the historic building, which they mothballed several years ago. With a proposal, the town will seek to rezone the property from public use to residential/agricultural, have a concept plan approved that will allow the buyer to convert the building into residential units, and gain authorization to sell or lease the building.

Other articles on the warrant include those seeking:

* Money to improve various town properties and parks.

* Permission to enroll the town as a member of the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project.

* Money to design and put out for bid water-main extensions in the Lost Lake area.

* Approval of a concept plan to build a 24-room inn at the site of the former Groton Inn on Main Street.

* Adoption of a state law covering a senior work-off program sponsored by the town, allowing it to conform to federal IRS regulations.

Also at their meeting Monday, selectmen:

* Voted to institute and charge a new Sargisson Beach Committee to explore ways it can take over maintenance of the beach with the aim of having it officially reopened to the public in the future. The charge includes setting membership of the committee at seven.

* Voted to approve e-billing of tax bills to property owners. According to Town Treasurer Michael Hartnett, residents can pay their tax bills via the Internet, but they do not yet receive their bills directly in the same way.

"There's no downside to (e-billing), but I thought it would be good to get the ball rolling," Hartnett told selectmen.

* Were informed of the imminent retirement of Conservation Administrator Barbara Ganem. Town Manager Mark Haddad said he intends to begin a search for her replacement right away.

No such search would be necessary to replace Haddad's executive assistant, Patrice Garvin, who also announced her decision to leave to seek a position in Shirley town government. 

Haddad's decision to hire Land Use Department employee Dawn Dunbar without a formal search process raised some eyebrows, including those of Personnel Board member Bud Robertson, who faulted Haddad for not posting the position to make the process more fair and transparent.

Haddad said it's a busy time of year for him, and he needed to replace Garvin as soon as possible. Agreeing with Robertson in principle, selectmen chose to let the matter drop for the time being.

* Voted to ratify the appointment of Stephanie St. Germain as activities coordinator for the Council on Aging.