ROCKPORT — Rockport’s Select Board handled various business in its meeting Jan. 10 including approving the year’s Emergency Operations Plan and discussing options for buying new police cruisers.

The town is on a schedule for buying new police cruisers and other town vehicles, but this year when it went out to bid for cruisers there were no takers. Town Manager Jon Duke and Police Chief Randy Gagne explained that production of vehicles is down throughout the country due to COVID and a shortage of microchips used in vehicle computer systems.

Gagne was able to find a dealer who will have two silver 2022 cruisers available by mid-June. He suggested committing to purchasing the vehicles now since even when production is back up and running there is likely to be a shortage of available vehicles and a backlog of municipalities buying them.

The town has money in reserve to purchase one cruiser now and needs approval at town meeting this year to pay for the other. The board discussed options for moving forward on that.

The board approved the 120-page Emergency Operations Plan for 2022. This is reviewed every year.

Duke said he was disappointed the town could not hold its planned Safety Training Jan. 10 due to the rise in COVID cases.

In other business, the board voted to dissolve the Investment Committee. The committee is seldom used and has few members. Attracting new members has been difficult.

The board also held a closed-door meeting on a personnel matter.

Cynthia Kava has been added to the Comprehensive Plan Committee.

As part of his report, Duke included an update on the work on the harbor:

“After three delays, the Holiday on The Harbor event finally got off the ground, but thankfully not too far off the ground due to fog. We had a record setting turnout on New Year’s Eve with an outstanding firework show, music, and food and drink thanks to Flatbread. Harbormaster Abbie Leonard oversaw a spectacular event that has cause so many community members to remark that perhaps rather than holding this event in the Christmas season it would be a better fit with New Years Eve.

“Prock Marine arrived this week to begin demolition, and eventual construction, of the new pier at the harbor. Thanks to the much-delayed Holiday on The Harbor event, we had many floats still in the harbor to remove prior to construction, so the deep cold temperatures made for a less than exciting time for our Public Works crew as they removed the floats this week. Thankfully, we have avoided a long stretch of deep cold earlier this season which would have made this task a challenge by magnitudes.”

Updating property values

“Assessor Kerry Leichtman is working on the statistical update to the Town’s property values last month,” Duke reported. “Residents should expect to see letters in their mailbox over the next month informing them of the changes forthcoming and informing them of the opportunity to understand the rationale behind the valuation changes. We hope to wrap up these informational meetings with property owners by spring, or perhaps more appropriately, in the midst of ‘mud season.’”

Budget

“Work on the FY 2022 budget has begun in earnest,” Duke wrote in his report. “Department heads have submitted their budget requests to Finance Director Megan Brackett and me. We will begin our work once the audit is completed next week.”

Library

“Due to the increasing COVID cases within the region, Library programming is canceled until this wave abates. This decision has been made with an attempt to do our best to keep this building open and operating as it should. The staff has been working diligently to create programs for all sectors of the community to enjoy, so this is clearly a blow as they are doing their best to build momentum. Library Director Ben Blackmon also was informed by the Maine State Library that due to an outbreak of COVID among drivers for the inter library loan program, some loan items may be delayed over the next couple of weeks.

“Phi Builders returned to the library this week to complete the final punch list, though some items may require a return visit in the spring due to the cold temperature causing some repairs to be unsuitable at this time. The new granite pavers have been installed at the building entrance by Farley Inc. and I could not be happier with the final result.”