Waldoboro Public Works may not perform its usual work assisting with the execution and clean-up of Waldoboro Day due to tensions between the department and an outgoing selectman regarding overtime paid for the work.
Town officials announced the department’s intentions at the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen’s June 9 meeting, after Waldoboro Day Committee Chair Caren Clark thanked public works for all they do to support the annual event.
According to Public Works Director John Daigle, none of the department’s employees want to work the event after continued questioning and “attacking” by outgoing Selectman Carl Cunningham in recent years regarding department overtime related to the event.
Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs put it another way in her report to the selectmen: “After years of scrutiny, the public works department has declined to participate in this year’s Waldoboro Day. Repeated questioning regarding overtime for this event has resulted in the Director terminating their involvement.”
This year’s Waldoboro Day is scheduled for Saturday, June 20.
The decision not to work the event this year was because of Cunningham and because no one on the selectboard spoke up after Daigle’s comments in 2014, Daigle said.
When Cunningham brought up the issue at the board’s July 8, 2014 meeting, he questioned whether public works needed to send as many employees to work the event as it did; said he’d like to know what the personnel did there, and that he didn’t see any public works employees when he attended Waldoboro Day.
“This is getting old. If you guys want me to do it I’ll do it, if you don’t want me to do it we ain’t going to do it,” Daigle said at the time. The situation was to the point where the employees were not going to work the event if all the selectmen were going to do was complain about it, he said.
“I’m just wondering why we’re spending $750 if we don’t have a lot of money in the highway department. This is my own feeling,” Cunningham said.
“I’ll solve that problem,” Daigle said, and the board moved on to other items of discussion.
At the June 9, 2015 meeting, Cunningham said he was concerned because the costs for the department’s work at Waldoboro Day continued to go up every year.
When Selectman Jann Minzy asked what could be done to fix the situation, Daigle said an apology from the board may help.
Several board members did apologize individually in various ways, but Cunningham did not.
Selectman Ron Miller suggested the board make a motion to request the department work the event – but leave the decision up to the department – as a vote of confidence, and the motion passed with four votes in favor and Cunningham abstaining.
Clark said she was not sure the committee could make Waldoboro Day happen without the support of public works, and offered to help lighten the department’s load.
“We need you,” Clark said.
After the meeting, Daigle was not confident the apologies or the board’s vote would affect the decision not to work Waldoboro Day.
“I’ll have to talk to the boys, [but] I don’t think it’s going to happen” because Cunningham did not apologize, Daigle said.
According to Daigle, the employees are paid a minimum of 3 hours each time they show up for overtime work.
According to a Waldoboro Day work schedule Daigle provided, employees from the public works department would work at four different times throughout the day: 4.5 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the early afternoon, three hours in the early evening, and 2.5 hours late at night.
The work would include moving signs and barricades, as well as picking up loads of trash and cleaning up after the day’s events.