State To Cover Costs Of Chatham Capital Plan, Job Study

By: Tim Wood

CHATHAM – Taxpayers won't pay a dime for two studies being conducted for the town by the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management at UMass Boston.

The cost of a classification and compensation study and a five-year capital improvement plan will be covered by Commonwealth Community Compact Best Practices grants. The town previously expected less funding for the projects.

The capital improvement plan, which was the subject of a kick-off meeting in late October, will develop criteria to guide prioritizing capital improvements; review projects proposed by town staff; work with town officials to determine the amount of capital investment each year; generate a preliminary list of projects for review by the town manager, selectmen and finance committee; present a draft five-year capital improvement plan.

Selectmen and the finance committee are expected to receive a draft plan in February, with a final draft for public review completed by April. In recent years, the town has spent millions on its infrastructure and buildings, including a new police station, town hall annex, and most recently a new fire station, and is currently in the planning stages for a new senior center. Officials have pushed for a capital improvement plan to ensure that those facilities are maintained and any new capital improvement projects identified and planned for in a timely manner.

Officials initially expected that $20,000 of the $28,000 cost of the study would be funded through a Commonwealth Community Compact Best Practices grant, but learned last month that the grant would cover the entire cost of the project.

The same goes for the $27,000 classification and compensation plan; at first the grant was only going to cover $15,000, but will now cover the entire cost.

The classification and compensation plan will involve studying 56 town positions, creating job descriptions, conducting a salary survey in comparable towns, creating a salary schedule and establishing a classification plan, with a draft plan expected to be completed by June.

Chatham joined the Commonwealth Community Compact in August. The program encourages communities to adopt money-saving practices and efficiencies; those that do so are eligible preference on grants, state aid and other support. Best practices towns can adopt include such areas as education, energy and the environment, finance, housing and economic development, human resources, information technology, public accessibility, public safety, regionalization and transportation. They include buying fuel-efficient vehicles, convening an opioid task force, adopting zoning changes that promote responsible development, and even implementing cyber-security training.