Town Handyman Services Contracted to Outside Vendor

May 20, 2016


by Barbara O’Brien

Windham Selectmen have decided to contract “handyman” services for the town to an outside vendor, rather than to continue paying salaries and benefits to employees.

Earlier this month, selectmen unanimously agreed to contract with K.O. Construction of Sandown, N.H., for maintenance services on an as-needed basis.  K.O. Construction submitted the lowest of the three bids, coming in at $25 per hour during daytime hours and $75 per hour after-hours.  The other two firms, both based in Windham, quoted a fee of $75 per hour daytime and $100 to $125 per hour after-hours.  The contract with K.O. Construction will continue for six months and will then be re-evaluated.

In response to a question as what had happened to the employees who previously did maintenance for the Town of Windham, it was reported that two had retired, two had received voluntary severance packages and one employee had accepted a severance package and a job elsewhere.  That, apparently, leaves one full-time employee to handle normal day-to-day maintenance duties, at least for the time being.  Highway Department Director Jack McCartney and Solid Waste Department Director Dave Poulson are, reportedly, expected “to pick up the slack.”

Barbara Coish, Windham resident and director of the town’s Senior Center, was the most outspoken about the selectmen’s decision to give most of the work to a private vendor.  “I feel this is the stupidest idea you ever came up with,” Coish told selectmen and Town Administrator David Sullivan.  Coish said she had already encountered some problems not getting a job done at the Senior Center earlier in the week.  “I don’t see this going smoothly,” Coish said.  “Good luck to Jack (McCartney) and Dave (Poulson),” she said.

Resident and Town Treasurer Bob Coole said he felt selectmen owed the town an explanation of what’s going on regarding the “handyman” issue.  Sullivan said the issue had been under discussion for more than a year before a decision to go with an outside contractor was reached.  Alterations were made to the existing municipal employee union contract to allow for the changes, Sullivan explained.  “The changes in the union contract will mean savings in excess of $100,000 per year,” Sullivan said.  Employees assigned maintenance jobs are paid between $15 and $16 per hour, plus benefits, according to Sullivan.  “These changes were not done because of the poor performance of any employees,” Sullivan noted, adding that “restructuring is never easy.”

Selectmen voted 5 to 0 to contract for six months with K.O. Construction.  Voting in favor were Chairman Joel Desilets, Vice-Chairman Ross McLeod, and Selectmen Bruce Breton, Roger Hohenberger and Jennifer Simmons.

In other business, selectmen unanimously appointed Town Moderator Peter Griffin and Windham Rail Trail Alliance Chairman Mark Samsel to another three-year-term as representatives to the Southern New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission per the Windham Planning Board’s recommendation.

Selectmen also unanimously appointed former selectman Kathleen DiFruscia to the balance of a three-year-term as a Trustee of the Trust Funds, effective until March of 2019.  No one filed for the open seat of Trustee of the Trust Funds this past March and the position was inadvertently left off the official ballot.