Duxbury’s town government will look different after Town Meeting Day, with the select board assistant’s position shrinking and board members likely stepping down.
In their last meeting before voters gather on Tuesday, March 3, the select board assistant, Jonathan DeLaBruere, announced that he’s found a new job. Dan Schillhammer and Kevin Garcia have said in the past they don’t intend to run for re-election, and Bob Magee’s one year term is up as well.
Because more than half of the people in the room might not be there for the next meeting, the board was hesitant to make any big decisions, but DeLaBruere spoke about his time cards and his role in the town government going forward.
“I do still want to continue on with the town,” DeLaBruere said. “It’s been a year and a half now that I’ve been an employee here. I think we have made a lot of good progress, and we’re doing a lot of really exciting things in this town. I want to see those projects to fruition.”
He said he won’t be attending meetings anymore because his new schedule as town administrator for Fairfield conflicts with Duxbury’s meeting time, but he’d like to continue in a limited role focused on grant-driven infrastructure projects.
“What we’ll do is, between now and the new budget coming up, you’ll be 10 hours a week to be in a consultant position,” said Magee, select board chair. While the select board can take up the responsibility of writing and posting agendas and minutes, they need him around to continue his grant work, Magee said.
“We have a person that’s got a new job, but we got over a million dollars worth of funds that we’ve paid into. Why would you want to walk away from that amount of money?” Magee said, referring to infrastructure projects that the state or federal government supplements at the rate of 80 to 87.5 percent, respectively.
DeLaBruere corrected Magee: The value of these infrastructure projects Duxbury is pursuing or has underway totals $3.5 million. If all those grants come through, the town would get at least $2.8 million back.
The board’s not sure voters will approve the new position next week, but DeLaBruere reiterated he would have to resign unless his job became much more focused.
“There are a lot of options that could present themselves come Town Meeting Day, and I would say very few of them allow me to stay on,” he said.
Regardless, the board agreed it needs someone to continue plugging away at grant applications and coordinating projects.
“If you had select board members that were, say, retired that have all the free time in the world, they can sit down and basically take on a full-time job. That would be ideal,” said Kevin Garcia, a select board member.
“I’d like to echo what Kevin said: Any retired professionals out there that want to help out, please throw your hat in the ring,” said board member Jerry McMahan.
“When I first started coming here, I had it in the back of my head that someday I would go on the select board,” said Scott Stockwell, who frequently attends board meetings. “After witnessing the work you guys do, it’s basically a thankless job.”
“Yeah, and that’s OK,” said Mari Pratt, select board vice chair.
About the time cards
On Jan. 27, the board told DeLaBruere not to talk to the press, citing an hourlong phone call with a reporter on his time card. The Waterbury Record discovered that hourlong phone call actually was 13 minutes and 16 seconds long. Two weeks ago, the select board held a closed-door meeting about the inaccuracies in DeLaBruere’s time cards reported in the Waterbury Record. Minutes from last week’s meeting state, “The board asked the select board assistant to change the interval on the timecards to 15 minutes to limit any future discrepancies.”
After the Feb. 24 meeting, DeLaBruere commented on the time cards with the blessing of the select board. His explanation? The descriptions he wrote were highlights and didn’t accurately represent all the work he did in that time period.
“Do I type everything I do in the course of a day in that time card? Absolutely not,” DeLaBruere said. “I put the highlighted pieces in there. Five emails pulled up, I might list one that’s important that I’m going to get a refund for, but I probably sent six or seven emails in that time.”
DeLaBruere said that, after that 13-minute phone call, he sent a document to the Waterbury Record reporter and then informed the board that he spoke to a reporter. He said the phone call was just the catalyst to an hour’s worth of work.
“Sure, that’s what I wrote on my time card, ‘an hour conversation with the Waterbury Record,’ but that wasn’t just the phone call, it was other things in that aspect.”
He also addressed an entry that described reading a news article and forwarding an article that was logged for one and a half hours.
“For me reading the article and sending it to the board, I read an article that Jerry (McMahan) sent, I read a different article, I forwarded them multiple articles. Did I send them Just one email? No, I sent them multiple things,” he said.
DeLaBruere said that is what he told the board in the private meeting, and was adamant that he worked for every dollar Duxbury paid him.
“Every hour I’m paid for, I worked that full amount. I maxed out at 20 hours two weeks ago. I called Bob (Magee) and said ‘Bob, I met my 20 hours, can I go over?’ Bob and Mari had a discussion and said no. I continued to work for eight hours that night. Did I get paid for eight hours? No,” he said.