Poolesville commissioners approve new hire, debate economic development strategies -- Gazette.Net


Poolesville could get some more help within the next couple of weeks to keep its water and sewer infrastructure in good repair.

Poolesville’s Town Commissioners voted unanimously Feb. 4 to hire another employee for the Public Works Department. The town’s current staff has been struggling to keep up with a high number of water main breaks recently, as well as two new wells that added to the workload this year.

Wade Yost, Poolesville’s town manager, said the town had been anticipating hiring another public works employee for a few years. This year, two new wells came online to serve new development, and the increased workload meant Poolesville could no longer postpone hiring another staff member.

The Public Works Department currently has 15 people on staff, including four people to maintain the town’s water and sewer system. Adding a new employee will cost about $40,000 a year, Yost said, but finding the money in this year’s budget should not be a problem.

“This is something we’ve been putting off for a couple years, so we’ve known it was coming down the pipe,” Yost said.

Jim Brown, president of the Town Commissioners, said the commissioners voted unanimously to hire somebody.

“We’ve actually posted for resumés, and we’ve had a couple interviews already,” he said.

Brown said Poolesville has had about the same number of water main breaks this year as in years past, but dealing with those in addition to added duties of checking the new wells has been a heavy workload for the current staff.

“Hiring somebody is going to make that a better situation,” he said.

Yost said he anticipates hiring a new staff member by the end of February.

Engaging businesses, visitors and residents

Brown said commissioners also debated hiring former county Councilmember Mike Knapp and his company, Orion BioStrategies, as consultants to help market Poolesville and promote economic development. Brown said he would support hiring Knapp to help the town develop strategies to engage businesses, visitors and residents.

“We lost our grocery store a little over a year ago, and it’s basically been a wake-up call that we need to make sure the town has a strong commercial zone that helps make the town more desirable for everyone,” he said.

Commissioners also discussed offering tax breaks and business loans to attract and retain businesses, but has not made any decision, Brown said. The Town Commissioners have not discussed business incentives for a long time, he said, so they put a lot of ideas on the table and will continue to discuss it in future meetings.

Brown said Knapp could help Poolesville foster partnerships with the county to promote the town’s agricultural resources.

“The county is very much interested in creating an agricultural hub where sustainable farming techniques can be taught,” he said. “... They need a center for this, and that’s what we’re proposing. ... It’s just natural for Poolesville to take a leadership position on that.”

The next commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at Town Hall.