August 05. 2014 10:09PM

Auburn officials say no to shared maintenance director proposal

Union Leader Correspondent

AUBURN — Auburn town officials have decided to pass, for now, on a proposal from the school district to share a maintenance position. Town Administrator Bill Herman said the concept is still on the table for future years, however.

The idea first arose after Auburn Schools Director of Maintenance Peter Barbuto informed district officials he’d be leaving for a similar position in Bedford as of July 28.

Though Auburn paid Barbuto’s salary and provided his benefits, he was outsourced to the Candia School District two days a week, said Herman.

Speaking at the Auburn Selectmen’s joint meeting with the school board on July 14, Karen Lessard, Business Administrator for School Administrative Unit 15 — which governs Auburn, Candia and Hooksett — explained the maintenance position is budgeted for $114,000 for the upcoming school year, a stipend that includes salary and benefits. She said Candia contributes 40 percent, or $45,000, for the position.

Herman said the municipal government has never had a full-time employee to handle the town’s maintenance needs, instead turning to part-time help and volunteer efforts to address related issues. The idea to split the position between municipal and school responsibilities, said Herman, was generated from a conversation between he and school board chairman Alan Villeneuve.

Though he acknowledged both sides saw a potential benefit in such an arrangement, Herman said the time constraints, and uncertainty as to how, exactly, the town would utilize the resource, ultimately squashed the idea for the time being.

“In concept, this type of agreement could be a good thing for Auburn as a whole ... but there was also a general feeling that if Auburn made this decision in July, we would be leaving Candia in a lurch,” he Herman.

Because the director of maintenance position is typically renewed annually on a one-year contract basis, Herman said that leaves the door open for the town and school district to provide a more thorough analysis and consideration of sharing the position prior to the 2015-16 school year.

“This year, they’ll do what they normally do and share the position with Candia,” said Herman. “But this gives both sides a year, or more than likely six months, to figure out if this is something that can work down the road, and if it is, how do we go about handling it in a timely manner that provides appropriate notice for all parties involved.”