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Lost Pet Notification System Approved For Town Website

The following is a transcript from a portion of the July 8, 2014 Board of Selectmen meeting. For links to other portion of the meeting, click here.

8:21 p.m. – There were no board reports and updates.

Robert Stafford was unanimously reappointed to the Historical Commission, Chris Pude was unanimously reappointed as Executive Director of the Westford Housing Authority and Jim Silva was unanimously reappointed to serve on the Affordable Housing Committee.

Election Officers were also unanimously reappointed, with the exception of Cindy Kahrs. Kahrs is Kelly Ross’ wife, he recused himself on that vote.

DSC_0014Kahrs was reappointed by the other two selectmen.

Minutes were approved.

8:24 p.m. – The agenda then went to a new lost pet notification system that would hopefully stop people from putting lost pet notices on telephone poles, which is illegal.

Town technology director Mike Wells came to the podium saying that the goals of the site were to make an online system that was always available, that could be moderated and provide updates via social media.

There would be a form on the town website that would be sent to Animal Control and the resident who submits the form would receive a confirmation.

Additional information could then be obtained from the resident looking to send out a notice about their lost pet.

Wells said that the challenge would be making sure enough people in town knew about the new service.

Jodi Ross said that if the Selectmen support this, the town would heavily publicize it, saying several thousand families would be interested.

It would not be a e-mail list blast to everyone, but would be available to those interested in lost pets.

Mangiaratti said that if this was approved, Westford Animal Control officer Meg Mizzoni would spread the word, although Mizzoni requested that calls should still be made to Animal Control and that this could supplement that.

Mizzoni could not attend the meeting due to prior commitments.

Jodi Ross jokingly said that Ellen Harde requested a similar process be made for yard sales as well.

Kelly Ross asked about a question regarding social media updates, with Jodi Ross saying it may need time to see how much the system is used.

A “found dog” e-mail list was approved, and Kelly Ross asked if dogs that are found can be taken down, he praised the idea overall.

Siriani joked that this could work for bears, but Jodi Ross said that only if they are pets.

Hazelton called the idea “genius” for a high tech town like Westford.

The proposal was unanimously approved.

8:35 p.m. – Finance Director Dan O’Donnell came to the board to ask for a 12 hour increase in support staff.

The request came due to O’Donnell’s recent promotion, leaving him with additional obligations.

The Finance Committee will also be asked to support the increase prior to it going to Town Meeting.

Even with the 12 hour increase, it would be a $70,000 decrease from what was being paid in 2011 to the former Finance Director.

Kelly Ross said that the proposal made sense, although he wanted to make sure why O’Donnell wasn’t asking for this before as budget director and he is acting for it now as finance director.

O’Donnell said that management and administrative work takes a lot of time, and he would like some assistance so he could focus on budget analysis.

Kelly Ross asked Jodi Ross if she is doing less managing now that O’Donnell is doing more managing.

Jodi Ross said that the town’s economic status had significant improved since he and O’Donnell had come on board, and that more work had been done with less staff, but that the town’s staffing levels had reached its breaking point.

He said that with administrative help, he could focus on higher level things rather than things like posting minutes of Finance Committee meetings.

Kelly Ross praised O’Donnell, and said he was just trying to understand why this request was being made.

Siriani asked about the particular employee and benefits. O’Donnell said that the additional hours would be given to an existing employee and make them eligible for health insurance, but it was not clear if they would take it.

Siriani also asked if a new job description had been made. Jodi Ross said that the union would have to be involved, and this employee had been part of the town for seven years and had been important in the past with other issues.

She would move from the accounting office to O’Donnell’s office for the extra hours.

Siriani asked if another full-time person was needed, O’Donnell said no, that he’d prefer to build this person up.

Hazelton praised O’Donnell and said that getting things done right was worth far more than $10,000.

The proposal was unanimously approved.

CORRECTION: Mike Wells, not Mike Mills.