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Upton Board Discusses Restructuring Code Enforcement’s Wages

In order to begin dialogue concerning Upton's Code Enforcement Department's staffing and wages, Town Manager Blythe Robinson drafted a preliminary report to discuss with the Board of Selectmen at their June 7 meeting. Building Official Pat Roche was also in attendance to voice his concerns over the report.

The discussion came about when Assistant Building Official Rudy Susienka gave his notice in May which created an opportunity for Robinson to review the number of Code Enforcement staff in town, as well as their salaries. Typically, the Department is staffed by the Building Official, Plumbing Inspector, and Wiring Inspector with assistants for each of those three positions. A Department Coordinator, the only full-time position, works 35 hours per week.

The report stated in Fiscal Year 2010/11, the Building Official worked an estimated 20 hours per week, with an average of eight to ten inspections per week making approximately $27,000. The Assistant Building Official, Wiring Inspector, and Plumbing Inspector each worked 15 hours per week, making annual salaries from approximately $16,000 to $19,300 with inspections averaging four to five weekly. The Assistant Wiring and Plumbing Inspectors work 10 hours per week, each making $9,350 annually with the Assistant Wiring Inspector averaging three to four inspections weekly and the Assistant Plumbing Inspector averaging one or two inspections. Currently, salaries are based on a job description and rated by the Personnel Board.

While Robinson did recommend that the vacant Assistant Building Official position be filled, she did believe the Code Enforcement's wages could be structured differently, with the exception of the Building Official. Robinson explained the town's Code Enforcement Department provides a very high level of service, however, due to the current economy and the number of inspections now needed because of the housing and building market, the current salary structure is somewhat expensive. As a result, she felt that the Wiring and Plumbing inspectors and their assistants could be paid on a $25 per inspection basis, which is what a number of other communities do. The Assistant Building Official would also have a reduced stipend.

"I see a lot of fault in this," said Roche. He added the town's building inspectors are expected to be well-educated on the current regulations including the International Building Codes and have years of training. In addition, some of their work involves resolving disputes and working on Saturdays. Inspectors are also on call and respond when needed to complete inspections.

"There's a lot more to it than doing a wiring job or a plumbing job," said Roche. He added that some of the town's inspections are ahead of last year's numbers.

Robinson stated that her report was only a basis to start dialogue with the Department and that nothing had been determined.

However, Selectman Ken Picard, also an electrician, said he essentially agreed with Robinson's findings.

"I'm comfortable with what you're proposing," he said. Still, the Board agreed to take the discussion under advisement and will have further dialogue with the Department before making a decision.

In other news that evening, Robinson announced that progress has been made on the purchase of the Sweetwilliam Farm. It is expected that the Community Preservation Committee will approve the revised conservation restriction. If things continue to move forward, the closing could take place the week of June 20.


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