AYER — The selectmen approved a recommendation from Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Michael Madigan that the town have infrastructure inspections contracted on a part-time basis.
Such inspections are required for new roads and infrastructure from developments that are expected to become town property at a later date.
Madigan explained that the DPW has juggled the duty with its other tasks in previous years, but suggested the town set up a revolving account and have an outside firm conduct the inspections.
Madigan said he had already put the item out to bid and recommended it be awarded to the firm of Weston and Sampson, which was the low bidder at a rate of $62 per hour.
In order to move forward, Madigan said he would need the selectmen to approve an engineering agreement with the firm.
Madigan said the agreement would be open-ended and would require a special town meeting to set up a revolving account for the contract. The work would likely begin in April and invoices would come due prior to the spring town meeting.
Madigan added they would not be starting from scratch. He said the DPW has already collected approximately $50,000 in fees from local contractors for such services that will go into the account.
Asked by Selectman Pauline Conley if the services could potentially outpace the revenue collected for conducting inspections, Madigan said any slack would be picked up by the DPW. He said that was the pattern in the past and what he was trying to get away from in entering this agreement.
Madigan also presented a request from the town’s four leading significant industrial users (SIU) to study operations of the wastewater district, which was approved when the selectmen established that businesses would pay for it.
Madigan said the study would focus on the allocation of wastewater flows and how they would be handled.
There was also some discussion of insuring snowplow drivers for this winter.
Madigan thought the town had four independent plowing contractors lined-up for this winter, but said subsequent queries about their liability insurance coverage had caused three to back out.
Conley, who works in the insurance field, said the issue was that many policies do not cover snow plowing activity and she agreed to evaluate the problem further with Madigan.
Madigan said the issue arose after town counsel notified them about liability concerns with private snow removal contractors.
However, he added the circumstance did not relieve the town of it’s essential need for snow removal.
“My comment to the whole situation is this: We need the plowers,” he said.