O’Donoghue said she voted against the proposal because she was unclear on what the position was supposed to do.
“I think people have voted for a position they think is something else,” she said. “I asked Buzz what it was. It’s an additional support function in the department. It’s not specifically dedicated for addiction-related cases. ... We are expanding a department here.
“The police chief spoke two weeks before about the need for a dedicated person. But we are talking about somebody quite different, I think.”
Selectman Dan Kowalski said it’s not the job of the Board of Selectmen to dictate a job description to a town department. He said the board’s job is to set policy direction.
“One of the things we learned in this process is that if there are policy decisions that need to be made, the board needs to be part of the discussion,” he said. He noted that in Fahey’s original budget request, he sought approval for a program coordinator and a clerk. Stapczynski recommended funding for the clerk, not the program coordinator.
During a budget hearing earlier this year, Fahey told selectmen he would rather have the higher-level position, which was new information to board members, who had been relying on statements from Stapczynski about the needs of the department.
“Bill (Fahey) said he wanted the higher-level position, so why was the town manager going with the lower-level position?” Kowalski asked. “I was taken aback we weren’t allocating resources to what was a valuable position in the community. It was my intention to raise the subject again. We heard all kinds of community feedback in support of the position.”
He applauded Fahey for zealously arguing his position.
“I’m sure they will be focusing on addiction-related items and the needs of young people,” he said. “This is innovation, which is great.”