There were some money worries and library celebrations, among other business, at the May 18 and May 26 Selectboard meetings.
Well bill issue resolved. A 17-year break on the electricity bill for their well pump is coming to an end for the Gujac and Wygmans families. The Old Lantern property, which is owned by the Gujacs, and the Wygmans’ home, use a well for their water supply that is located on town property. The old flea market land, located on Route 7, is currently unused by the town; when it was purchased, the properties that use the well, which are located on Greenbush Road, were permitted by contract to do so. After several large bills this winter, due to a possible plumbing issue at The Old Lantern, the town discovered it had been paying for the well’s electricity for 17 years.
At the May 18 Selectboard meeting, property owner Maura Wygmans said that she didn’t believe the town should suddenly stop paying the bill after it had done so for so long, but after legal review, the town disagrees. The Selectboard decided on the May 26 meeting to turn over responsibility for those bills to the property owners, giving them until September 1 to transfer the utility bill into their own names. Board member Louise McCarren said, “I think we basically say to them, ‘You guys so settle this or we’re getting out of the deal.’ I don’t mean to be nasty, but at some point it’s not our problem.”
Pay increase considered for assistant town clerk/treasurer. Saving the town that money might not mean much after a decision to possibly spend more in other areas—a hot topic over two meetings was the request by Town Clerk/Treasurer Mary Mead to raise the pay grade for the Assistant Town Clerk/Treasurer position, which is currently held by Christina Boohers, who has announced her departure, which could take place as soon as August 1.
Town employee salaries are determined based on a pay scale that applies a variety of criteria to a position which then receives a grade; salary is based on where that job falls on the scale. Mead is requesting that the assistant clerk/treasurer position be given a higher grade.
McCarren said she has “great misgivings” about the Selectboard taking on the role of raising the pay grade but appreciates Mead’s dedication and hard work and the importance of providing adequate support for her. “It’s a very important position and we all see the value, [but] if we do it ourselves, that will be politicizing it and I think that’s a mistake.”
Selectboard member Carrie Spear quickly responded, “This has been political since it started, Louise. I think Mary’s not ever given the credit she should be given. The woman’s taken care of our town for 22 or 23 years.”
Boohers voiced her opinion on the matter as well, saying she thinks she is underpaid and that, out of loyalty to the town, she has turned down other opportunities to make more money. Selectboard Chair Matt Krasnow suggested, and the board approved, inquiring into the cost of hiring human resources consulting firm Gallagher Flynn & Co. to evaluate the situation.
Other news. After some frustration on the part of the Energy Committee, the Selectboard eventually approved $1,900 for a computer and some weatherproofing. The computer will be installed in the library as part of the EC’s education mandate in the Town Plan; the weatherproofing will be done at the Food Shelf. The Selectboard also heard recreation updates (see below) and heard from the Charlotte Library, where site work is in progress and a reopening plan is in the works. Library Director Margaret Woodruff said they are doing their “due diligence” as far as safely continuing to offer programs and get books and other materials to the town.