×

Chelsea Residents Reject Bid to Appoint Treasurer

  • Mark Blount, Principal of the Chelsea Public School, reports to the town's voters during the annual school meeting in Chelsea, Vt., Tuesday, March 6, 2018. In the 2018-2019 school year, Chelsea will join the newly created First Branch Unified School District with the Tunbridge Central School. The Chelsea School will continue to educate students in kindergarten through eighth grade, but the high school will close. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dickson Corbett, Chelsea's town moderator, replaces his glasses after polishing the lenses prior to the start of the annual school meeting in Chelsea, Vt., Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Porter Walbridge, of Irving Oil, fills the heating oil tank at the Chelsea Town Hall and Library as residents enter the building for town meeting in Chelsea, Vt., Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Chelsea residents Wendy Forbes, right, and David Mize, left, talk during a break between the town's school and town budget meetings in Chelsea, Vt., Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Chelsea — Shortly after their lunch break on Tuesday, some 120 Chelsea voters passed, by a large majority, the $1.24 million town budget. The final budget came in $2,030 under the proposed amount, reflecting successful amendments allocating $1,200 to the maintenance of West Hill Cemetery and cutting the town auditor positions.

Earlier in the meeting, voters rejected an article that would have granted the Selectboard the authority to appoint the town’s treasurer. They also “passed over,” or opted not to consider, proposals that would have done the same to the positions of delinquent tax collector and town clerk.

Selectboard Chair Joan Goodrich defended the article concerning the treasurer, noting that the board unanimously favored having more oversight over the post. “We need to be able to have information to serve the board and the taxpayers,” she said.

Many residents voiced their disagreement, however, Helen Heslop among them. “I like voting for the town clerk and the town treasurer,” she said. At one point, nine people had their hands raised, seeking Moderator Dickson Corbett’s permission to speak. Despite a final plea from Goodrich, the motion failed.

At lunch, Heslop elaborated on her support for voting for officers at Town Meeting. Handing the Selectboard the power to appoint officers is “one step in removing the town coming together as a unit and individuals’ voices not being heard,” she said. Besides, she said, “the Selectboard has enough to do, don’t you think?”

The one article decided via paper ballot proposed eliminating the town auditor positions in favor of hiring a public accountant to conduct future audits. Of the 97 votes cast, 64 were in favor, carrying the motion.

Selectboard member Greg Kotyk delivered a presentation at the beginning of the meeting outlining the body’s priorities for 2018. He described wanting to complete Chelsea’s village center designation renewal, which could qualify the town for tax credits and state grants. He also cited the board’s goal of codifying town employee job descriptions over the next year. He hopes to take these actions and more in a cost-effective manner.

“Everybody I’ve observed on the Selectboard are fiscal conservatives,” Kotyk said.

Some attendees found the town’s zeal to collect owed revenue excessive. Susan Hardin described notices sent in the preceding year to residents with outstanding sewer and water bills as an indication that some folks needed help.

“I think people that can’t pay for their sewer or water are really struggling, and I think the town should provide some assistance,” she said.

Goodrich replied by noting the board was prepared meet with residents to devise workable payment plans, and that the town hadn’t resorted to shutting off anybody’s water or sewer access. “The town is a business and you have to operate it like a business,” Goodrich said, “but we’re trying to be a friendly business.”

In addition to approving the town budget of $1.24 million, voters approved raising just over $20,000 to be distributed to 20 different social service agencies, ranging from the Central Vermont Council on Aging to the Chelsea Farmers Market to the Orange County Parent Child Center.

At the conclusion of the meeting, voters elected 11 town officers. Goodrich and Kotyk retained seats on the Selectboard, and will be joined by Cynthia Masterman. None of the elections was contested.

At noon, 123 voters had checked in, of the 939 registered in Chelsea.