Conservation Commission Feud Grows

Tuesday April 25, 2023

Georgetown Town Hall

GEORGETOWN – In the on-going battle between town officials and the Conservation Commission, chair Carl Shreder and other commission members last week rejected Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco’s accusation that fraud was involved in the compensation for its former conservation agent.
In an email, Pacheco wrote that he and the Board of Selectmen had to exercise more authority so “the vast payroll fraud and undocumented work hours that occurred previously has more controls over it. Please note while the Commission may refer to this as harassment, we are simply doing our job to protect taxpayers and follow the law.”
Shreder said he has seen no evidence of fraud in the compensation paid to Steve Przyjemski, who resigned in January after 17 years of working for the ConComm. He cited a toxic work environment created by Pacheco.
The state Inspector General would investigate any accusation of payroll fraud by a town agency and present any findings of fraud to the Georgetown Police Department, according to other town officials who spoke with the Inspector General.
Pacheco and Przyjemski tied up several times after Pacheco became the town administrator, including once when the conservation agent called for police intervention because he said the administrator was trying to break into his locked office.
Pacheco said he objected to Przyemski’s leaving town hall between noon and 1 p.m. on many days.
Przyjemski said he was making site visits when he was out of the office, a claim Pacheco disputed. He was paid $70,000, not $100,000, as implied in Pacheco’s email, Shreder said.
Last week, administrative assistant Julie Cantara, the second member of the ConComm staff, resigned from her part-time position with the town’s accounting department because of negative comments about Przyjemski and the commission by other town employees.
Shreder also disputed Pacheco’s claim that the commission had illegally imposed fines and took several years to approve a shed at Catbird Farm.
Pacheco wrote that the farm’s application, “a generally minor issue, took four years to approve… The adjacent abutter, a nice elderly man was forced to pay fines from the commission as well.”
The fines were “subsequently returned,” the town administrator wrote.
“There were never any fines imposed” in the case, Shreder said. “There was no old man in the case.”
Pacheco was not working for Georgetown when the case was being heard, Shreder said. “This is all hearsay. And his comments are not accurate.”
The approval process was delayed because the applicant postponed consideration for months and had to refile the application when the commission did not have a quorum to vote on it.
Shreder said the town administrator and others critical of the commission should review the public records. “I am not afraid of the public record,” Shreder said.
The commission chair also disputed Pacheco’s claim that the commission attempted “to give a former employee a $50K no-bid landscape design contract via CPC funds.”
“The commission never endorsed the garden project,” Shreder said. “That came from the Open Space Committee.”
Board of Selectmen chairman Douglas Dawes and Shredder have been meeting in person and exchanging emails, trying to resolve differences between a majority of the Select Board and the Commission. Dawes has requested access to commission members’ private emails, according to two members of the commission.
The ConComm last year denied approval of G. Mello Trash Disposal Corp.’s proposed transfer station, a decision that has divided the town. Mello appealed that decision, which as of last week had not been ruled on by the court.
In what some in town believe is an attempt to reform or kill the commission, the Selectmen last year did not reappoint Laura Repplier and Rebecca Chane, two veteran members of the commission, and have filled only one of those seats.
Rachel Bancroft, another veteran member of the commission, is running for the Board of Selectmen. She said she does not expect that the current Selectmen will reappoint her to the ConComm.
Shredder, whose term ends next year, said he doubts that he will be reappointed, unless there is a change in the Select Board this spring.

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