Belmont Is A Mess! Select Board Targets Growing Trash Complaints On Street, In Parks

Photo: Just another overflowing receptacle in Belmont

When Mark Paolillo decided not to run for re-election to the then Board of Selectmen in 2019, it was mentioned at the time that board meetings would miss his memorable discharges of distain for people who left garbage, trash and, yes, dog poop on the town’s streets and parks.

“This is outrageous, simply outrageous. This can’t happen,” he cried when viewing the aftermath – beer cans, food containers, plastic bags – of an adult softball game in 2016.

So with Paolillo winning a return to the board earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before the public would hear his clarion call:

”Leonard Street is a mess!” Paolillo said at the Monday, Sept 20 board meeting, barely containing his disgust of anyone knowingly throwing trash in overflowing barrels at parks and in the business centers.

But Paolillo’s anger is not attention seeking but well warranted as anyone who travels through Belmont Center, by eateries around town or in any park or playground can testify, trash is a real problem throughout the Town of Homes. Containers outside the town’s favorite take-out places are overwhelmed while barrels in parks are swamped with all manner of garbage and waste.

“The trash levels that we’re seeing now are pretty substantial,” Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director, told the board.

Topped out trash cans and garbage left on the ground is not a new problem. Over the years particular locations such as the aforementioned softball diamond off Concord Avenue, Belmont Center or at Joey’s Park at the Winn Brook School which has become an impromptu site for children’s parties, are in need of collection specifically during the weekend.

The trash cascade begins on Friday evening and continues all day Saturday as residents and visitors come for grab a bite to eat or to attend kids events at parks. And the trash doesn’t stay where its bought or brought. A study from a newly formed local environmental group, Clean Green Belmont, discovered the majority of waste at Clay Pit Pond comes from Belmont Center eateries.

And the jump in trash is more than just a litter or esthetic issue. All that out-in-the-open garbage quickly turns into a public health problem as improperly discarded food contributes to the introduction of rats and other rodents.

So how did the town get in such as predicament? According to Marcotte, much of the increase in waste began in 2019 when the town eliminated overtime for the DPW’s Saturday pickup schedule in a cost savings move. And despite the town’s hauler, Waste Management, emptying town reciprocals three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it does not keep up with the volume for waste produced over the weekend.

Two years ago, the DPW issued a Carry in-Carry out policy that is successful at National Parks but didn’t work in Belmont other than making many residents angry that waste barrels were removed.

In addition, the town had “a very detailed discussion about trash” with Leonard Street businesses when the street became a one way to promote dining and shopping in the Center which led to an agreement that retailers and eateries would install their own trash receptacles which they would have removed.

”I think what we are starting to see is that’s not happening,” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin.

Vice Chair Roy Epstein said it would be a reasonable takeaway to say that self policing by residents on controlling trash “is not working.”

“This is an example of a public good where the way to make sure it gets done is to have the DPW do it and not rely on somebody’s good intentions,” said Epstein.

Marcotte agreed, saying the return of a DPW weekend collect “is a venture we should look into it and start implementing sooner than later.” Garvin pegged the overtime price tag at $10,000 for two workers from April 1 until the first snow fall in late autumn/early winter.

The board agreed the dollars spent in reinstating the DPW pickup “are insignificant considering the benefit it will have to the community,” said Paolillo.

Garvin will “use her usual resourcefulness” to find the money, said Epstein, either by tapping into town resources or rearranging DPW schedules to allow for personnel to work on Saturday. A plan coming from Garvin will be presented to the board at its next meeting.

Select Board Gives Garvin Top Marks In Annual Review, Acknowledging Growing Public Criticism Of Government

Photo: Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin.

In a time of financial constraint and pandemic, Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin received top marks from the Select Board during her annual review held at the board’s Sept. 13 meeting.

“One of the reasons I voted to hire Patrice was to get us to do things better and differently and not just continue the status quo and be a bean counter but to be a visionary and a leader,” said Adam Dash, Select Board chair. And while she has received her share of criticism – particularity in online forums – “it is a lot easier to just go with the flow than it is to change things. I think [Garvin] has changed things a lot since she’s been here and I think we’re better for it.”

“We live in an era of increasing suspicion of government, even in small town like Belmont, so helping to allay these fears has become an important requirement of the town administrator,” said Vice Chair Roy Epstein.

After the review, the Select Board awarded Garvin a 1.5 percent increase to her annual salary effective July 1 bumping it up to $193,400.

Garvin’s performance review consisted of a self evaluation and a number-based performance evaluation on all aspects of her role as the town’s chief administrative officer, according the Human Resources Director Shawna Healey.

Healey said Garvin’s overall rating was a 4.18 on a scale of one to five. The members also provided written reviews and areas of improvement in the coming year.

The public portion of the review including the scores and board’s written review can be found at the bottom of the article.

In his public comments Monday, Dash said that Garvin “is the best town administrator I’ve worked for in Belmont.”

“The times are tough, but she’s unflappable and is always focused on doing what is best for the town. We are lucky to have her recognized strengths include resiliency creativity, adaptivity financial acumen with a ‘can do’ attitude,” said Dash.

Epstein said that Garvin is an “outstanding” town administrator who manages an enormous number and variety of responsibilities for what she brings a wealth of experience, great intelligence and tremendous work ethic.

“[Garvin] in direct manner and working with the Select Board ability to attend to multiple pressing issues simultaneously proved success, proven success and winning outside grants, she did a spectacular job managing our COVID response, both operationally and financially.”

“There can be a torrent of criticism of the town administrator [as] changing an organization and institutional practices is an is inevitably controversial – nonetheless, it is her burden to deal with – and to find a positive resolution, Patricia is maturing in this area. It’s a difficult two way street, as she acknowledges in her self evaluation.”

Board Member Mark Paolillo reiterated his colleagues praise for Garvin’s strong work ethic as she is motivated to achieve good results while also acknowledging her strong support of all department heads and those who report to her who she “treats … with dignity and respect.”

Garvin “needs to improve her performance and public relations and communications to community leadership,” said Paolillo, as “there is a high level presently of mistrust amongst our town residents towards town administration and town and government to fiscal management.” That would include a need to develop a clear and timely understanding of budgets including overages and turn backs.

Garvin responded by thanking the board, the town’s department heads, Schools Superintendent John Phelan and everyone who works with her daily.

“It is my honor and privilege to work for the town of Belmont. I work very hard to come in every day with the attitude to improve the town in any way I can,” said Garvin.

Saying she welcomes the feedback both positive and negative as an opportunity to improve her work. ”I am someone who definitely always wanting to do better,” Garvin said.

Gavin also addressed the issue of growing public distrust of local government. “I think that it is very much on my mind, the mistrust that is in the community. Unfortunately, I do not think it’s indicative to Belmont. I talk to a lot of managers and administrators in Massachusetts, and we’re all struggling with similar issues and trying to convey to the public that trust, and to alleviate that suspicion that that I think is out there.”

“I will definitely work harder to make sure that the residents of the town can trust the board, the administration as it has been a challenge,” said Garvin. “The last year and a half has been very challenging to do the job itself and then to add a pandemic to it, it really does test the limits of patience, it tests your limits of staying positive and and trying to take that criticism and rise above it,” she said.

Garvin pointed to the relationships she made with the residents who volunteer on boards and committees “who come with pure selflessness to improve their town” and who she calls her “partners in crime” to improve the day-to-day lives of the citizens of Belmont, “which I know I come to work every day, aspiring to do.”

Breaking: Belmont Town Hall, Offices Set To Open Tuesday, June 1

Photo: Belmont Town Hall is ready to open on June 1

The return of normalcy after 15 months of COVID restrictions continues as Belmont Town Hall and offices will be open for business on Tuesday, June 1. The opening comes as the Massachusetts intends to lift its COVID-19 restrictions, though masks will still be required in schools, at transportation hubs, and at health care facilities.

Town Administrator Patrice Garvin made the announcement during the Belmont Board of Health’s Monday, May 24 meeting. While the town offices will be open to the public, anyone who is unvaccinated will be required to wear a mask.

The one exception to the openings will be the Beech Street Center, due to the large number of older residents who congregate in the building. A set date for its opening will be announced in the future.

Garvin called in to recognize the Board of Health and all in the Health Department for its work during “this crazy year.” “You were so vital with your guidance and thoughtful response to residents and staff,” said Garvin.

“When I look back years from now about this time, that’s what I’ll remember first,” said Garvin.

Public Meeting On Federal COVID Funds And State Aid Set For Wednesday, March 31

Photo: Poster to the meeting

The $8.6 million Belmont will receive from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has been the topic of a heated debate ever since it was signed into law by President Biden on March 11.

In one corner are those who are attempting to defeat a $6.2 million Proposition 2 1/2 override who see the money filling town coffers with more than enough funds to render the override moot.

On the other side, proponents of the override contend that most of the cash is restricted to reimbursing town revenue lost due to COVID-19 and can’t be used to as a one-time stop gap for the town’s structural deficit.

And in the past three weeks, “I am seeing some things that are being misreported in regards to those numbers,” Town Administrator Patrice Garvin told the Select Board Monday, March 29.

In an attempt to provide a clearer picture of the funds and how they can be used for, the Financial Task Force II and Warrant Committee are inviting the public to a virtual presentation to share the latest information regarding the new Federal Aid Bill and also provide an update on projected state aid in the coming fiscal year 2022.

When: Wednesday, March 31
Time: 7 p.m.
Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87434286149

Questions will be taken at the conclusion of the presentation period
through the Q&A function. The meeting facilitator will inform those
attending when questions can be submitted.

It Won’t Be Pretty: Consequences Of A Failed Override Prompts Select Board To Endorse Its Passage

Photo:

The date: April 6, 2021. The time: 9(-ish) p.m. The location: Belmont Town Hall. Town Clerk Ellen Cushman strolls out from her office to read the results of the annual Town Election. After going through the races for elected positions, she comes to what residents have been waiting for – the decision on the $6.4 million Proposition 2 1/2 override. Cushman clears her throat and reads out the count.

And the measure … fails.

The first question for many people will be: “Now what?”

On Monday, Feb. 8 – just under two month from the above election – the Belmont Select Board and residents were provided an answer to The Day After scenario as Town Administrator Patrice Garvin spelled out the rather dark consequences of a no vote throughout the fiscal year 2022 budget.

“There’s no way to sugar coat it really. They’re all painful which is way we asked for an override,” said Board Chair Roy Epstein.

While Belmont not yet on the level of the four horsemen of fiscal apocalypses, the certainty of cuts in services and personnel as well as still to be determined retreat on school programs, the Select Board unanimously voted to endorse passage of the Proposition 2 1/2 override on the April 6 ballot.

Note: On Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m., the Warrant Committee is holding a Zoom public meeting on “Understanding the Override Decision” that will present the impact of a yes and no override vote.

After reporting last month how a yes vote on the override would be used by the town and schools. the town proceeded to run a budget exercise on the impact of a negative response by voters. With expenditures of $163 million as opposed to revenues of $157.2 million, the town would need to fill a $5.7 million gap.

Garvin said a little more than a third of the gap would be bridged using an additional $1.9 million from free cash – the last of the reserves not reserved by town policy – and taking $350,000 of the $400,000 OPEB contribution. The remaining $3.45 million would be made up reducing town and school expenditures, 60 percent – or $2.07 million – coming from the schools and 40 percent ($1.38 million) from the town.

On the town side, cuts would come from all departments (see the chart below) as well as removing $500,000 from discretionary capital expenditures that was targeting much needed maintenance and infrastructure repairs.

Cuts to town departments with a negative override vote. (Credit: Town Administrator Office)

Garvin pointed out that long sought after positions such as a social worker for seniors and a new procurement employee to manage the increasingly complex nature of bidding and preparing projects such as the new Middle and High School.

“We really do need someone who has the expertise, who can move through the commissioning process as [the new school building] gets handed over and can run all the town buildings more efficiently,” said Adam Dash, board member. “I fear that if we don’t have that person in place, it will actually cost us more money because the systems won’t be run properly.”

Other departments will see significant reduction in salary and overtime requests while Police, Fire and DPW will see the loss of at least one staff member which will reduce response times for public safety and less work done at town fields and playgrounds.

The board’s decision to endorse a yes vote was expected, “especially in light of these pretty draconian and grim looking cuts. It’s going to be a difficult situation if it doesn’t pass,” said Dash.

While the school cuts will be announced on Tuesday, Belmont Superintendent John Phelan told the Financial Task Force on Monday morning that the schools would loss the 10.6 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions they had planned to add in 2022 as well as 15 additional staff members and cuts in many line items.

If the April override fails, the town is looking at a second override for the Town Election in 2022. Quick calculations by the Financial Task Force on Monday morning indicated that the subsequent override would be in the range of $10.8 million over three years, give or take a million either way.

Town Adminstrator Re-Ups ‘Til 2024 With New Contract

Photo: Patrice Garvin

With enthusiastic backing from the Bemont Select Board, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin will be sticking around Town Hall for a few more years.

The town’s chief administrative officer was offered a new three-year contract commencing Jan. 15, 2021 at the Select Board’s Monday, Oct. 19 meeting. The agreement came after a month-long review process and negotiations during which the Chelmsford resident received praise for her resourcefulness, work ethic, and organizational skills from the three-member board.

“You could not put more effort into this job and I think she is as conscientious and as smart as they come doing this type of work,” said Board Chair Roy Epstein.

Garvin was sworn in as Belmont’s first female town administrator in Jan. 16, 2018 after a long search to find a replacement for David Kale, who served for four years.

Under the new contract, Garvins’s base pay will increase from her current $181,778.69 to $190,500 on July 1, 2021. Garvin will receive annual increases of a minimum two percent or the general pay increase for department heads, which ever is greatest.

In addition, board will hold annual performance reviews on May 1 wih possible merit increases to the base salary. As part of the performance review, Garvin and the Select Board will define the goals for the next fiscal year that they determine necessary for the Town, and the Board shall further establish a relative priority among those goals.

In her benefits package, Garvin will see her annual vacation leave increase from four to five weeks and she’ll have the standard 12 holidays including a “floating holiday” with pay to be used at any time during the calendar year. And effective July 1, 2021, the Garvin will be allowed to sell back to the town each year a maximum of 80 hours of vacation time. The town will make a $625 per month car allowance, which will be taxable.

Town Administrator Nixes Own Pay Raise As Town Faces Big Budget Shortfall

Photo: Patrice Garvin, Belmont Town Administrator

In a move that took many by surprise, the Select Board approved Town Administrator Patrice Garvin’s request that she not be paid her expected annual salary increase.

The amendment to Garvin’s contract is “in response to the significant budgetary shortfalls as a result of the unanticipated COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the press release from the town.

Garvin’s gesture comes two-weeks before the Belmont Town Meeting where members will be presented the fiscal 2021 budget that reflects a 25 percent reduction in state aid. In addition, the town’s Financial Task Force’s initial projections of the fiscal ’22 budget has the town suffering a one-year structural deficit of between $10 to $13 million.

Garvin was expected to receive on July 1 a two percent increase over her base salary of $189,300 or the general pay hike for department heads, which ever was higher.

Garvin’s action won praise from the Board.

“I’d just like to note that this is what leadership looks like. In coming from the town administrator, it makes a very large statement,” said Select Board’s Adam Dash.

With a significant financial challenge waiting in fiscal 2022, Garvin “recognizes she can’t ask employees of the town to do anything that she isn’t willing to do herself,” said member Tom Caputo.

Budget Bloodbath: Belmont Finances ‘Severely Impacted’ Due To COVID-19; Cuts In Basic Services, A Call For Layoffs, Furloughs

Photo: Patrice Garvin, Belmont Town Administrator

It’s ugly. And it’s likely to get uglier.

That’s the first impression of Belmont’s town finances after initial estimates of the impact on the current and next year’s budgets by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Town Administrator Patrice Garvin speaking before the Warrant Committee via video conference on April 1.

With all town departments already “running lean” before the pandemic struck “another cut is going to severely impact the operations and the services we provide the residents of the town,” said Garvin.

While there are “too many uncertainties” to make any good estimates of the likely shortfall, it’s nearly certain that the anticipated pronounced loss of revenue will place a strain on the current fiscal year 2020 budget while triggering real pain in next year’s fiscal 2021 budget – which begins July 1 – from lose of basic government services and likely layoffs and furloughs of town workers, according to Garvin.

“Direr but probably realistic,” said Warrant Committee Chair Laurie Slap hearing members reiterate their belief that revenues will drop significantly with resulting cuts in expenditures.

The sudden shut off of the revenue spigot comes as the town was close to finalizing the fiscal ’21 budget that was going to be brought before Town Meeting by the Select Board. The last draft presented to the Warrant Committee, the Town Meeting’s financial “watchdog,” projected the ’21 budget at $136.6 million.

For instance, a 10 percent cut in just one line item, total state aid in fiscal ’21, would force the town to slash $1.2 million from the budget that has a revenue gap of $5.6 million. Garvin noted state aid was reduced by 20 percent between 2008 and 2009 when the last economic downturn occurred.

The town is currently looking back at town budgets in 2008 and 2009 when the country last entered into recession to get an idea of how revenues took a hit.

Override in doubt?

In addition to services, Belmont, according to Select Board Chair Tom Caputo “will need to think long and hard about whether or not … our plans for an override in November still, in fact, make sense.” The proposed “operational” override – in the $6 million range – was seen as critical in meeting town services and needs by the school district in managing a continued surge in enrollment.

The rapidly moving series of events of the past six weeks due to strategies to halt the spread of the coronavirus has Garvin and her staff attempting to hit a moving target to provide the Warrant Committee some semblance of confidence it is receiving figures it can analyze.

When the seriousness of the spreading pandemic was fully understood two weeks ago, “we quickly came to the realization that fiscal year ’21 and some of fiscal ’20 could be severely impacted” most notably by the loss of state and local revenue, said Garvin.

Now and moving forward, the town has been “scrambling” to review its revenue projections from its February budget estimates, said Garvin.

Caputo said the massive disruption in the economy from the coronavirus requires the town “to rethink our [fiscal] ’21 budget that we laid out several months” which “was one that was going to work if everything remained as we had hoped” before the COVID-19 virus caused commerce and life to be upended.

While the largest sources of revenue, real estate property taxes with an estimated revenue of $92.2 million in fiscal ’21, continue to show high compliance levels, the town is preparing for significant reductions in the aforementioned state aid and local revenue collected from fees and services.

In a four-page overview of the ’21 budget, the town has been working on, the majority of line items are color-highlighted as likely to experience a drop in revenue.

Areas where revenue numbers will shrink from the February earlier estimates will be in new growth (expected at $920,000), meals ($234,000) and excise taxes ($3.7 million) and as will parking tickets and fees from building permits. The Recreation Department was seen as generating $1 million into the town’s coffers yet now could see receipts plummet if the Underwood Pool can not open for the summer recess.

While many of the fees are relatively small – from a few thousand to over a million dollars – if each takes a significant hit, they will add to a larger deficit in the fiscal year ’21 budget projections.

“In a nutshell, [fiscal year] ’21 is just a work in progress,” said Garvin. “We’re going to just keep running different scenarios … and seeing where the [Select] Board and the Warrant Committee wants to go.”

Warrant Committee member Ellen Schrieber noted that losses in fees and other revenue in the current year will likely damped estimates of the number of reserves – mostly from the town’s free cash account – which was expected to be passed forward into fiscal ’21 to fund gaps in the budget.

Garvin agreed, saying free cash “is where we’re going to get the hit next year.”

Hiring Freeze, Layoffs Possible

While the budget outlook is far from clear, the town is already formulating “initiatives” to begin filling the gulf of red ink facing the town. The likely first step will be a “thoughtful” hiring freeze, according to Caputo, as well as keeping a cap on overtime payments with the exception of public safety and a possible town-wide spending freeze with only “the most critical and essential items.” according to Garvin.

One significant area the town and Select Board are “brainstorming” to reduce expenses is looking hard at salaries which is the “primary” expenditure in the budget, said Caputo.

Warrant Committee member Geoffrey Lubien breached the topic of possibly furloughing town employees, noting that while not ideal, it would allow those individuals to secure unemployment benefits.

Garvin said that such conversations are occurring with the Belmont town counsel as nearly all the employees are union-represented and there needs to “decipher” the difference between a furlough and a layoff.

Lubien did followup saying reducing the workforce should be a last resort since “to let people go and then try to get them back is very difficult.”

One area of town that was only briefly touched but which looms large in town finances was schools. Yet Warrant Committee member Chris Doyle was blunt on her view that significant savings should come from the district that she believes isn’t functioning at full capacity with the schools closed and students being taught remotely.

“There is zero chance that teachers are spending anywhere close” to the same time they were in school “and it makes me want to be very encouraging for a broad furlough in the school department,” said Doyle.

Mike Crowley, the school committee representative to the Warrant Committee, felt layoffs “isn’t going to help the kids” during a difficult and at times problematic transition from educating students in a classroom setting to one at home in front of a computer.

The town is also discussing the possibility of using a provision in Gov. Charlie Baker’s Declaration of Emergency which allows municipalities to run a budget deficit due to “natural disasters on direct coronavirus expenses” The law gives a city or town breathing room to recover from a calamity by allowing the deficit to be paid off over the subsequent three fiscal years.

But for now, Garvin will be meeting with department heads and the school district to discuss where cuts can be made in an already lean program while waiting for more information from the state and town.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and we’re just kind of moving along, keeping our eyes on what we think is going to be most impacted and go from there,” said Garvin. “I could put something together for today and a month [from now] it could be completely different.”

Proposed Ice Rink Gets Guideposts Along With A ‘Fast And Furious’ Timeline

Photo: Town officials speaking on guidelines/time frame for a new ice skating rink in Belmont; (from left) Jon Marshall, Jeffrey Wheeler, Patrice Garvin, Tom Caputo.

During its final meeting until September, the Belmont School Committee voted on Tuesday, June 18 to approve a list of “guiding principles” for a Request for Proposal for a new ice skating rink that will ensure the school district and town will have a significant say in future of the public/private venture.

The list of suggestions that includes size, uses and oversight of the new rink, will provide “potential applicant the freedom to explore a variety of different [design] options,” said Tom Caputo, chair of the Board of Selectmen.

In addition to the guideline, the town presented a very tight timeline going from the release of a draft RFP in early September to finalizing a public/private lease with a selected development team in late November.

“The calendar is critical and that everybody buys into it,” insisted Jeffrey Wheeler, the town’s senior planner who will be working over the next two months with the Town Administrator’s Office and a working group of school committee members creating the RFP.

An anticipated vote on a location of the rink was delayed until after a traffic study is conducted with the aim of determining the best place for the “curb cut” from Concord Avenue.

“We felt that until that was determined, we really couldn’t figure out the place to site the rink,” said Patrice Garvin, Belmont Town Administrator who was joined by Jon Marshall. the assistant town manager who will lead the effort in writing the RFP.

The school committee guidelines include:

• A rink with one and a half sheets of ice is “acceptable” but developers can submit a plan for a single ice sheet.

• developer should minimize the building’s footprint to accomodate three playing fields for high school sports.

• The rink will include between 70 to 90 parking spaces within the site design; the spaces will be available for student parking at the new Middle and High School.

• The need for locker rooms to accommodate the high school teams and can be used for fall and spring sports.

• Ice time will be allocated to the high school teams and reduced rates for Recreation Department programs.

• The developer must submit a financial model to demonstrate financial viability.

• The creation of an oversight committee to secure the terms of the lease are being fulfilled.

While the town will be performing the heavy lifting of creating the proposal with many moving parts, the real challenge is a fast and furious timeline imposed by the town that calls for the approve the RFP, selecting a developer, OKing a lease and then signing a comprehensive public/private agreement all within a tiddy three months.

According to Wheeler, the accelerated timeline starts the day after Labor Day (Sept. 3) with a draft RFP sent to school committee members and the Select Board for edits and review.

It will be followed over the next two weeks by a pair of public meetings (Sept. 10 and 17) for residents input before a final RFP is approved on Sept. 24. A day later, the RFP is out before potential developers who will have a shortened five-week interval to submit a bid to the community development office by Oct. 30.

Just six days later on Nov. 5, the Select Board and the School Committee will select the best proposal followed eight days later on Nov. 13 with Special Town Meeting voting to approve leasing town/school land to a private developer.

Finally, two days before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), the Select Board and School Committee will award a contract to the winning proposal on Nov. 26.

Selectmen OK Pay, Merit Hike for Town Administrator

Photo: Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator

After receiving a positive job evaluation two weeks ago, the Belmont Board of Selectmen at its April 22 meeting increased Belmont’s Town Administrator Patrice Garvin’s paycheck so she’s a bit closer to what her peers in town government are taking home.

In addition to salary and merit raises for Garvin, the town administrator presented a list of goals for this coming fiscal year, according to the town’s Human Resources Director Jessica Porter

The selectmen provided Garvin, who began her tenure in Belmont in January 2018, a two percent cost of living increase and two percent merit payment retroactive to July 1, 2018 (the first day of the fiscal year 2019) and an identical pay and merit package hike effective this July 1.

In addition, the board increased the town administrator’s vehicle allowance from $2,400 to $7,500 as of July 1 to assist her daily commute from her Chelmsford home.

Garvin’s total compensation package on July 1 will be approximately $189,300. Her starting compensation was $170,400.

The final package still leaves Garvin behind the average compensation of $206,450 for town administrators and city managers of 14 comparable nearby municipalities, according to an analysis by Porter.

Garvin presented the board with her goals and their subsequent objectives for the coming year. They include providing financial leadership, improving the overall effectiveness and efficiency of town government and promoting economic development.

The complete list of goals and objectives are below:

GOAL 1:  Finance/Budget

The Town Administrator shall work closely with the Selectmen, Warrant Committee, Capital Budget Committee, Town Treasurer and Town Accountant in providing financial leadership, to provide a balanced budget to Town Meeting.

Objectives:

  1. Work with the Superintendent to develop two operating budgets for FY21. One with an override and one without.
  2. Continue to work with Finance Team to develop five year budget forecasts.
  3. Work with the Financial Task Force II to assist them in providing the Board of Selectmen Financial recommendation.
  4. Seek out grants and other funding sources that will take pressure off of the operating budget.

GOAL 2:  Operations/Service Delivery

The Town Administrator shall strive to establish a positive working environment with employees, to ensure the best delivery of services to the residents of Belmont. 

Objectives:

  1. Continue to inform and educate staff through department head meetings, and through moral building exercises.
  2. Continue to conduct reviews for all non-union employees.
  3. Support the HR Director in negotiating successor agreements with collective bargaining units.
  4. Work with the departments to ensure that the most productive, cost efficient services are being provided to the residents.
  5. Assist with shepherding major building projects to completion (i.e., Belmont High School Project, DPW Building, Police Station, etc.).

GOAL 3:  Open and Transparent Government

The Town Administrator shall keep the selectmen and citizens informed of governmental activities and strive to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of Town government.

Objectives:

  1. Maintain that all materials are made public on the town website; better utilize other digital resources; keep all other web content current.
  2. Ensure that all selectmen minutes are up to date and approved in a timely manner.
  3. Establish a way to continue to use social media to disseminate information.

GOAL 4:  Economic Development

The Town Administrator shall work to promote economic development.

Objectives:

  1. Work with the Business Study Group to provide the final deliverable of their charge.
  2. If an Economic Development Committee is formed work with that committee and the Business Study Group to foster ways to improve on what has been identified.
  3. Continue to work and build relationships with the business community.

GOAL 5: Public Communication

The Town Administrator shall be an active participant in the Belmont Community.

Objectives:

  1. Attend community events as time allows.
  2. Continue working with committees/boards and elected officials to advance projects in town.
  3. Continue to work with Belmont Media.
  4. Continue to be open to all residents’ concerns and connect them to the town departments that will assist.

GOAL 6: Personal and Professional Growth

The Town Administrator shall pursue professional development opportunities. 

Objective:

  1. Attend professional meetings, seminars and conferences including the ICMA, MMA annual conference and regional meetings. 
  2. Apply to become a candidate under the ICMA Certified Managers program.
  3. Continue to reach out to neighboring communities and to identify areas of possible regional efforts.