SAUGUS — This year’s proposed budget will ask Town Meeting members to fund a full-time town engineer.
A town engineer would work with the Department of Public Works and Planning Department to coordinate projects and look at plans submitted by prospective developers to streamline the process.
“The reality is that other communities sometimes have four, five, six, or even seven engineers,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree. “We’re in a position now where we have one part-time person and we have all this development going on. There’s such a need to have this resource and expertise.”
The current part-time engineer works four hours, every other week, and sits on the Planning Board. But there is a strong need for someone to be available more frequently.
“It’s something that the town needs, especially with all this development,” said Crabtree. “We really need a town engineer that’s there to look at sewer flows, water flows, construction and all that stuff, in different projects.”
The engineer would also work closely with the Department of Public Works and the Planning Department. The budget accepted by the Town Manager and Board of Selectmen includes an $80,000 salary for an engineer, though Crabtree said the amount is only an estimate. He suspects a qualified applicant would require a higher salary.
“I think this is a start in the right direction, much like the Planning Department that was much needed for the town,” said Crabtree.
Interviews are being conducted to fill the planning director position vacated by Stephen Cole at the end of last year.
A job posting on the town’s website describes the job as “the point of contact and manager for all short term, intermediate, and longer range master planning.” Qualifications include a minimum of five years of planning and community development or related economic experience, a bachelor’s degree, and a preferred master’s degree in planning community development or a related field.
Cole resigned from the $82,000 per year job after he served the town for about 14 months.
Also included in the proposed $98,879,576 Fiscal Year 2019 budget is a new position for a truancy officer for the School Department. The officer would ensure all students enrolled in Saugus Public Schools live within the district.
“With this new middle-high school coming online, I think it’s going to attract a lot of people,” said Crabtree. “I don’t think it’s that uncommon that people try to use different addresses to try to attend schools (in the district) that they don’t actually live in.”
If 100 students were found to not belong in the district, Crabtree estimated it would save the town roughly $1.5 million a year.
“We’ve had some hard times here for a number of years, and now I think we have to look at some of the long-term planning for the town and the taxpayers,” he said.
A pre-existing facilities manager position was created last year by town meeting but has not yet been filled. It has been posted several times, but the town is looking for a specific candidate with the right qualifications, said Crabtree.
“We do have a difficult time or challenge of attracting qualified, experienced candidates as well as maintaining them,” said Crabtree. “People from out of town look for other opportunities. We recently had our Human Resource director leave for a job that’s the same exact job in another community that is very close to us for I think almost $21,000 more than we were paying here.”