CHESHIRE — The town administrator is among the Cheshire officials swapping office space to make local government more efficient and accessible to the taxpayers.
The relocation of several town departments has begun with preparing and cleaning the Town Hall Annex between the Town Hall and the police station. A good portion of the Town Hall’s interior will also be cleaned and rooms painted before the new tenants move in. The second floor in particular needs sprucing up and some repairs.
“The overall strategy surrounding this move is to increase the efficiency of our staff and improve the overall efficiency and quality of the experience for our stakeholders, which include our taxpayers, residents, business owners, and anyone needing specific services,” Town Administrator Ed St. John IV told the Select Board at its Tuesday meeting.
The board voted 3-2, with Robert Ciskowski and Mark Biagini opposed, for St. John and the administrative assistant to relocate to the second floor of Town Hall. The administrative assistant serves the Select Board, town treasurer/collector and Board of Assessors.
Board Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi says the reconfiguration cost is minimal and people will be encouraged to use the elevator to the second floor and not the narrow stairways.
The move will also consolidate the inspectional services with the Board of Health moving from the Town Hall second floor to the annex. This puts all inspectional services under one roof as the building and wiring/electrical inspectors are already at the annex.
The Water Department office will move into the Board of Health’s current space on the Town Hall second floor.
“This will provide great access for water users and privacy should they need to discuss delicate matters with Water Department staff,” St. John said.
The entire project is scheduled to wrap up by mid-November, according to St. John.
The Select Board was split on whether the reconfiguring of office space is worth the effort, with Ciskowski doubting the plan will increase efficiency. He also objected to asking residents to volunteer to paint, given the liability of using non-employees.
“I don’t think we should be having volunteers on ladders painting,” he said.
The reconfiguration would be a short-term plan should town meeting voters, as early as next spring, approve converting part of the former Cheshire Elementary School into the new Town Hall.