Westfield Newsroom

Health director hours to increase

Southwick Board of Health members Jean Nilsson and Dr. Jerome Azia listen as Health Director/Inspector Thomas Fitzgerald speaks to the Southwick Select Board. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

SOUTHWICK – The town health director position is likely to become full-time when current Director Thomas Fitzgerald retires.

Fitzgerald is set to retire Nov. 1 but agreed to work as a consultant until the position is filled.

“I don’t want to leave the town without someone,” said Fitzgerald, who has served Southwick for 22 years.

The Board of Health urged the Select Board to create a full-time position.

“If we keep this as a part-time position, we will get the same amount of applicants we’ve had since [posting the job] July 16, which is none,” said Board of Health Chair Dr. Jerome Azia last month.

Azia said Fitzgerald is extremely busy, particularly with inspections at several home developments in town. Azia said over the past four years Fitzgerald’s work has brought in a substantial increase from inspection fees – from $16,000 in 2016 to $45,000 last year.

“We are on track to do $50,000 this year,” said Azia, adding that the increased revenue from fees would help pay for the increase in salary.

The Board of Health asked that they be allowed to increase the director’s hours from 26 to 35 and offer a salary range of $54,000-$63,000.

The Select Board last week agreed additional hours could attract candidates. Select Board Chair Russ Fox reached out to Azia last week to start the process.

“We started brainstorming about additional hours and could [the director] be given extra duties,” said Fox.

Fitzgerald said the extra duties would be to serve as the town’s Right to Know officer.

“This person gets information from companies that store chemicals on-site, so that will be an added responsibility but won’t take up a ton of time,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said he was “surprised” no one applied for the part-time job but was confident they would find someone for a full-time position.


To Top