Belmont selectmen discuss Town Clerks hours and police department restructuring

BELMONT — Selectmen engaged in a lively discussion last night about whether to allow the offices of the Town Clerk to close early on Fridays in order to remain open later on Thursdays for the summer.
Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said discussions about the hours of the Town Clerk Tax-Collectors Office are nothing new and she said the issue of having the office open when there is no one else in the building has always prevented the town from adding one day with evening hours to their schedule.
She also said that closing early on Friday could create problems for the other employees in town hall who are there but cannot assist someone who needs assistance at the Town Clerk's Office.
When Selectmen Chairman Ron Cormier said he thought the reason the Town Clerk Tax Collector wanted to do this was to get a half day off on Friday, Selectman Jon Pike said that wasn't the case.
"No matter what we do, somebody will be upset," Pike said who said he likes the idea of extended hours one night a week. He suggested a trial run for the summer time but Cormier and Selectman Ruth Mooney balked.
Mooney said she tried to close her private business office on Fridays and it didn't work.
"The Town Clerk has to be available to people," she said. "If you're going to run a successful business, you have to be there on Friday."
Cormier said he likes the idea of having the office open one evening a week so the people who work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — like he does — do not have to take time off from work to get a car registered.
Cormier said that the Town Clerk-Tax Collector's office needs to have "enough staff keep (the office) open on Friday. But I want to see one night."
Beaudin said she would bring the idea to the Town Clerk.
In other action, Selectmen gave tacit approval to Police Chief Mark Lewandoski to create two sergeant's positions and one corporal position. He said the change would enable him to have a supervisor on shift all of the time and to have a sergeant review all the paperwork that gets submitted.
"Having one sergeant responsible for reports isn't working," he said, noting that a sergeant must review all paperwork and that the department is falling behind.
Lewandoski also said the corporal would be similar to a sergeant in training. He said the corporal has very little authority but can act as a shift commander, something he says helps morale because his officers have someone to turn to for supervision.
"A new broom sweeps clean," said Pike who said he likes the changes he's seen recently within the department and wants Lewandoski to run his department as he sees fit.
Cormier said he worried the department was becoming too top-heavy. But all three selectmen agreed that the chief should administer the department.
Beaudin said the move would remove one position from the union and would cost the town about $3,000 annually in additional salary. She said she would bring a formal motion to the board for action at the next meeting on May 20.