ASHLAND – Following suit with other towns and cities throughout the region, Ashland will soon be adding a sustainability coordinator to its ranks.
Town officials hope to have the new coordinator, who will be paid an annual salary of $55,000 to $65,000, in place by September.
The goal is for the employee to help the town increase its green efforts, according to Town Manager Michael Herbert. Among the sustainability coordinator’s major tasks will be to implement a robust townwide composting program, help the town take advantage of grant funding and assist the sustainability committee in its mission for the town to completely offset its greenhouse gas use by 2040.
Herbert said the sustainability coordinator will also play an integral role in the town’s stormwater program and help the town take advantage of Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program funding.
To help pay for the salary of the new town employee, the town is tapping two sources.
The lion’s share of the salary, approximately $45,000, will be paid for through the town’s electricity aggregation agreement with Public Power, LLC, which allows it to merge the purchasing power of individual residents and businesses to buy a large amount of alternative energy in bulk at a fixed low rate, Herbert said.
The town has added an “Operational Adder” of $.001 per kilowatt hour to its agreement with the Public Power LLC.
What that means is that rates will change from $.10947/kwh to $.11047 /kwh.
The average residential electricity consumption rate for Massachusetts is about 600 kwh per month, according to Colonial Power Group President Mark Cappadona, whose company manages the town’s electricity aggregation agreement.
The average residential customer should see an increase of about 60 cents in the monthly electric bill, Herbert said.
The remainder of the salary will be paid for through the town’s solid waste and recycling budget, Herbert said.
In May, Town Meeting voted in support of the budget that included funding for the new sustainability coordinator.
More than a dozen other communities in Massachusetts have hired sustainability coordinators over the last decade, including Framingham, Newton, Medford, Greenfield, Northampton and Somerville.
Holliston and Sherbon recently teamed up to add a $50,000 line item on the governor’s budget for a joint sustainability coordinator to serve both towns.