Town eliminates jobs

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Four town employees have been sent notices that, as of Dec. 31, they no longer will have jobs.

The four employees work for the town’s water and sewer departments, entities that won’t exist as of Jan 1. Voters in November approved closing down both departments and transferring the assets to a quasi-municipal entity, the Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District.

Town Manager Don Lagrange said Wednesday that the notices would be mailed that day. A copy of the letter was not available because the matter involves personnel and is therefore confidential, Lagrange said.

The four employees, and those working in the town’s highway department, are members of the Teamsters union. According to Lagrange, the terminated employees have 10 days in which to file a grievance with the union.

In public hearings prior to the vote, town officials said the former water and sewer employees would have the opportunity to apply for jobs with the district. The number of job openings within the district is not clear.

More about jobs and other immediate business regarding the district should be known on Monday, when the three-member Board of Trustees for the district meets for the first time. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the town office.

The charter for the district stipulates that one of trustees be the town manager. The other two seats officially were filled Tuesday, when selectmen appointed Jim Vekasi and Jim Geary. Vekasi and Geary were chosen from a pool of seven applicants reviewed by selectmen in a Nov. 23 executive session.

Selectmen decided to stagger the terms of the two new trustees. Vekasi is to serve a three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2018; Geary a two-year term ending the last day of 2017.

Some residents have questioned whether the town manager being a trustee is a conflict of interest. Last month, selectmen voted to change this arrangement. Charters for a district are subject to approval by the state legislature. Amending the document needs this same approval.

At the meeting Tuesday, Chairman George Jellison pointed out this would not happen anytime in the near future. The legislature only considers emergency bills during its second session, he said.

“The town manager will be a trustee until at least until spring of 2017 or maybe even the fall of 2017,” Jellison said.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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