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Goffstown DPW director criticizes selectmen liaison, suggests change

GOFFSTOWN — The Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night revealed tensions between a town department and its respective board liaison, with a suggestion made that the liaison should be changed.

Public Works Director Carl Quiram was present at the meeting to speak on several ongoing projects within DPW.

When the board began discussing improvements to Parker Station Road, Quiram referenced a handout from Selectman John Allen Brown, board liaison to DPW, with an estimate for the project of $14,960, not including the cost of pavement.

“When I went back and actually added the real, actual costs, the total comparable cost to that was actually $6,168,” Quiram said, adding that when adding in the paving, it “ was just a little over $8,000.”

Quiram said he called Brown last week and asked him how he arrived at his differing estimate.

“What he told me is that he had driven by the job morning, noon and night and counted the people and equipment on the job,” Quiram said. “I pressed him on that ... he admitted that we had left early the second day — he thought it was around 1:30.”

Quiram said that the first day his crew was on the site, the excavator broke down on the way there and was an hour and a half late, causing a late start.

“Were there too many guys on the job?” Quiram said. “Well, perhaps there were,” but adding that was a result of the excavator.

Regarding that issue, he continued, “Do we get it right 100 percent of the time? No, of course we don’t. ... Town staff is expected to provide accurate estimates and operate in the fishbowl of public opinion, addressing everything we do, out in the open, on camera, out on the streets. So why would Selectman Brown hand out information, after the meeting had adjourned, that he knew or should have known was flawed?”

Quiram said that the purpose of a board liaison to a town department is “to afford the department head the opportunity to gauge the Board of Selectmen’s sentiments on budget, expenditures, proposals, grants, and other potentially sensitive matters, so that the department head can formulate an optimum recommendation or statement to the Board of Selectmen.”

Therefore, he deemed Brown had failed to meet those requirements.

“Selectman Brown has not, and I don’t believe is capable of, fulfilling that role,” Quiram told the board. “I’m formally requesting that the chair reconsider assigning a different selectman to the Department of Public Works.”

Brown rebutted Quiram’s comments.

“I think you should be on the jobs more than you are, because if you were there, you would see more of what’s going on,” Brown countered.

Quiram asked if Brown had mentioned this point during his recent performance review. Brown said he had.

Chairman Collis Adams requested the discussion be held for the time being.

“What I’d like to see is all selectmen liaisons work more directly with the department heads, whether it’s DPW or any other departments in this town,” Adams said. “The intent of the liaison is to work through these issues … Certainly, we can’t be having these discussions at every Board of Selectmen meeting.”

Adams suggested adding the issue to a future agenda to allow him “some time to look at it,” and that Quiram should be there when it’s discussed.

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