Kevin Sexton, representing the Board of Health, updated the Select Board on the status of the COVID-19 situation in Reading on Wednesday, April 8. Sexton reported that as of the eighth there are 53 cases of the virus in town and that the town departments have been “phenomenal” in their handling of the crisis. The most challenging work of the Health Department has been contact tracing or determining those with whom people who have been infected may have come into contact. Sexton thanked the school department for making school nurses available to the Health Department for this process.
Over the next few days, the Board of Health will be looking into requiring stores to provide receptacles for glove disposal and will be considering safety proposals for the various construction sites in town. Sexton also mentioned that continuing education will be a focus for the board in the coming days. “We will get through this,” Sexton pledged.
Town Manager Robert LeLacheur informed the Select Board that after their vote last week and a bill that passed the legislature last Friday, all water/sewer/stormwater bills and all property tax bills will be considered on-time provided they are paid by June 1 despite being officially due earlier. There will be no penalties or interest charged on late payments before June 30. He also urged residents who may have difficulties paying their town bills to contact the town to set up payment plans.
LeLacheur also reported that he will have a draft policy, based on recent legislation, regarding public hearings ready for the board’s consideration at its next meeting on Tuesday, April 14. He did share that the state has pushed requirements for public hearings out to 45 days after the state of emergency is over, which will help with some deadlines, especially for the land-use boards in town.
LeLacheur continued by reporting that there will be no state aid cuts for the current fiscal year, but FY 2021 could look very different. What the impact of cuts to state aid on the FY 2021 budget will be is “too early to say.”
The Select Board discussed how to better serve other boards and committees in town through its liaison assignments. The new assignments will be made at the next meeting. The board also decided to begin the process to seek new volunteers to the boards and committees by sending letters asking incumbents whose terms are expiring if they wish to continue to serve. It is possible that interviews for any open positions will be held virtually and with multiple applicants at a time.
The Select Board adjourned at 9:05 pm.