By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Newburyport’s animal control officer will soon be doing double duty in West Newbury — at least for the time being.
On Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen agreed to appoint Matthew Lipinski as the animal control officer until June 30.
Lipinski, who fills the same post in Newburyport, replaces Madelyn Cirinna, who in October announced her intention to resign after 24 years in the position. She officially left the post Dec. 31.
Like Cirinna, Lipinski will also be designated a special police officer in West Newbury.
Selectmen hope to eventually establish a framework for sharing Lipinski’s services regionally with Newburyport. However, when they learned that entering into an inter-municipal agreement would first require approval by voters at a town meeting, the board opted to hire Lipinski on a temporary basis until the end of the fiscal year.
They instructed Town Counsel Michael McCarron to continue his negotiations with Newburyport to establish an agreement effective July 1, pending voter approval for the plan at the annual town meeting in April.
Lipinski will serve a maximum of 18 hours a week at a rate of $22 per hour. He will report to Police Chief Lisa Holmes, who is responsible for handling any of his administrative needs.
Selectmen hope Lipinski can start as interim ACO as soon as Monday. In the meantime, residents who have an issue with a wild or domesticated animal in town should contact the police or call the selectmen’s office, Kemper said.
Selectman Dick Cushing called for monitoring to ensure that Lipinski is able to meet the town’s animal control needs, even if his schedule heats up in Newburyport as the warmer weather approaches and more people are outdoors.
Selectman Glenn Kemper stressed the importance of filling the position now because the town has been receiving animal-related phone calls since the post became vacant.
“It’s one of those things, you don’t realize it until you don’t have it,” he said.
Kemper did say that an initial report of a woman being bit by a dog proved to be false and added that the police were responsive to the woman when she called in with her concern.
In her resignation letter, Cirinna cited several ongoing difficulties with her job that she felt selectmen should be aware of.
Cirinna wrote that she had difficulty finding qualified coverage for the times when she was unavailable. She said a lack of proper access to refrigeration made it difficult to deal effectively with wildlife and unclaimed deceased cats and dogs. She also said there were inadequate facilities for holding dogs and cats since Water’s Edge Veterinary Hospital is no longer able to serve as a pound for the town.
Selectmen didn’t specifically address any of Cirinna’s concerns during their discussion on Wednesday.