SHIRLEY -- Earlier this year, the selectmen decided to re-open Town Offices to the public on Friday mornings and issued a call for all departments under their jurisdiction to be open until noon.
Previously, the building was closed on Friday to save energy.
At the time, selectmen said the idea was for town employees to work a 40-hour week, Monday through Friday, during normal business hours and to give the public more access to Town Offices.
Now, they've decided the building will be closed on Friday again, starting this week.
This time, the change was made for safety reasons.
Town Collector Holly Haase brought the matter up at Monday night's meeting.
Haase said she had safety concerns about the building being unlocked and open on Friday mornings, since hers is usually the only office open downstairs when the other windows -- assessors, Sewer Commission and now, the town clerk -- are all shuttered.
"That leaves me all alone downstairs, and it doesn't feel safe," she said.
She asked the board to consider closing the building to the public on Fridays. She suggested that to ensure access, each department that answers to selectmen could be asked to designate one night a week when the office will be open and/or for someone from that department to be available by appointment on Fridays.
"I don't mind coming in," said Haase, who as an elected official was not subject to the selectmen's Friday morning mandate anyway.
And after all, her office is open Monday nights, when there's substantially more traffic than on Friday mornings. Typically, that's when most folks come in, she said. And if there's an issue that comes up and someone wants to see her on a Friday, she'll make an appointment.
Citing emergency issues that might come up when the office is closed to the public, she said anyone with an overdue excise tax bill that must be paid to renew their driver's license may do so online. The same goes for Realtors, attorneys and taxpayers who need information or have business to conduct with her office on Friday, Haase said.
Chairman Kendra Dumont said she'd asked the police chief to get a price quote for a panic alarm. The initial outlay would be $1,000, she said, with a $10 monthly fee for each unit, hooked up via existing fax lines.
Selectman David Swain said the safety issue is important and must be addressed, and, hopefully, would be when there's a new town administrator on board. Panic alarm equipment would be a justifiable capital expense, he said, but the monthly charge was the rub, with no money in the budget to pay for it.
After some discussion, selectmen voted unanimously to close the Town Offices building on Fridays and to pursue the panic alarm option as a separate issue.