SHIRLEY — In her report to selectmen this week, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin suggested that as budget-building talks begin, they should consider raising fees the town pays for private plowing services.
As it is, the town has no contractors lined up to help plow its roads this winter and DPW Foreman Paul Farrar is concerned about the situation, she said.
Chairman David Swain said it’s a valid concern. “Our three trucks and two sanders won’t go far,” he said.
Garvin indicated the problem could be that the town doesn’t pay enough.
Compared to what other towns that hire private plow drivers pay for their services, Shirley is “pretty low” on the scale, Garvin said.
Citing another snow and ice issue Farrar is worried about, Garvin said the price of road salt has gone up substantially. Based on last year’s usage — more than 1,000 tons — it could cost at least $58,000 more to treat town roads this year.
The new road salt price tag represents a 35 percent increase, Swain said.
Garvin recommended setting aside $200,000 from free cash to cover the anticipated gap and then some, versus banking the amount in the stabilization fund, adding that she would also ask Finance Committee members what they think of the idea.
Swain favored it. “It’s good fiscal management,” he said.
The board authorized Garvin to advertise a full-time DPW position, with the new hire contingent on Town Meeting approval.
Gearing up for winter and short-handed when a laborer went out on medical leave, a part-time position has already been filled on an interim basis.
Garvin told the board that a member of the Conservation Commission has resigned, leaving a vacancy. Anyone who’s interested in filling the seat can contact Chairwoman Nancy Askin.
The Conservation Commission will discuss its Forestry Management Plan at its Nov. 25 meeting, said Garvin, and is currently seeking input on its Open Space Plan, which is posted online.
Garvin announced that the volunteer work crew being assembled in partnership with Home Depot to fix up the War Memorial Building still has openings for anyone who wants to sign up and help out. But the project date has been changed.
The new date will be sometime in November.