Pownal ballot issues could overhaul city governing administration | Community News

POWNAL — The Find Board has authorized a slate of referendum inquiries for the March 2 ballot, which, if accepted, could appreciably change the way city organization is carried out.

The board on Tuesday approved ballot concerns inquiring if voters want to make the town clerk, treasurer and delinquent tax collector positions appointed instead than elected posts.

One more dilemma asks irrespective of whether the town lister positions should be removed and a solitary experienced lister hired to do that position.

And the voters will be asked to weigh in on no matter whether businesses in town will be ready to cultivate and/or sell hashish goods when entire legalization starts in 2022.

Additional to these ballot queries is predicted to be just one put as a result of a citizen petition that asks voters to reinstate the elected town auditor positions that had been eliminated in a shut vote during the March 2020 town election.

Supporters explained Wednesday that they’ve submitted the needed range of voter signatures to the clerk’s office to protected a location on the March ballot.

City Business office

The board also proposes a different funding components for the new town office environment challenge that works by using undesignated surplus resources in the price range to hold the anticipated bond quantity to the exact same level that was accredited in October 2019.

Simply because of delays and estimated cost boosts in the now-$865,000 task, which was envisioned to go to a groundbreaking by spring 2020, the board figured out in December that another $90,000 would be essential.

They in the beginning proposed a further bond vote in March — introducing $90,000 to the $600,000 determine voters approved in 2019.

Nevertheless, Pick out Board liaison Rebecca Dragon and Administrative Assistant Linda Sciarappa outlined a proposal at the assembly Tuesday, under which $90,000 in undesignated surplus resources in city accounts would be employed to make up the greater challenge cost, and that the bond would be recertified at the same determine, $600,000.

The board authorized the idea of applying undesignated funds, which Dragon said was advised by Sciarappa. The ballot query wording, Dragon mentioned, was worked out as a result of session with the town’s bonding lawyer.

The challenge financing modify will need that voters recertify the unique $600,000 bond total and also authorize a transfer of $90,000 into a town office developing fund from undesignated surplus resources.

The office environment constructing fund by now has $175,000 in it, having been included to in excess of the a lot more than 20 many years the city has sought to switch its cramped recent business building on Middle Road.

If the proposal is permitted in March, the unique $600,000 bond sum, $175,000 from the town workplace fund, as well as an added $90,000 from surplus, would give plenty of to fulfill the increased $865,000 task price, officials stated.

Dragon added that should really voters reject the ballot short article, the initial bond authorization would conclusion and “we are again at sq. one particular once more.”

The workplace proposal phone calls for transferring a nearby 19th century schoolhouse constructing on North Pownal Street to the former Bartels Lodge site adjacent the present-day places of work, which the city owns.

Modular setting up sections would be added to the former college to produce an workplace and meeting facility.


Dragon claimed Wednesday that altering the city clerk place from an elected submit to an appointed one that pays a income was encouraged to her in conversations with the New England Municipal Resource Center, which has labored with the town on accounting and auditing troubles.

A NEMRC representative was anticipated to give a presentation to the board on town audits and related topics on Thursday night.

Dragon claimed she handed the recommendation on the clerk’s posture to board associates Robert Jarvis and Michael Gardner, who formulated the notion of asking voters to approve shifting all town office positions from elected to paid out city employment.

“They requested me to study ballot language for appointment of positions,” Dragon reported in an e mail. “I investigated the ballot posts, and despatched them to the board, but it was actually Bob and Mike who spearheaded that final result.”

She reported the proposal was formulated in excess of the week prior to the conference Tuesday.

Dragon additional that neither Clerk Julie Weber nor Treasurer and Delinquent Tax Collector Ellen Strohmaier lifted important objections to the thought of turning out to be paid out town employees.

Contacted by way of email, Strohmaier declined to remark. Weber could not be reached.

Discussion OF Spend

In discussing the ballot article content, board customers indicated they would use the exact same place of work-holders for their latest positions and shell out a wage commiserate with what they now get in typical yearly compensation.

The clerk is paid out a stipend and keeps a part of the charges for licenses, recording of deed paperwork and other services.

Strohmaier is paid a established once-a-year sum as the elected treasurer, and in the delinquent tax collector’s task, she is paid from the penalty fees assessed for overdue taxes.

Jarvis mentioned Tuesday it should be probable to glance at the quantities the officials now acquire on regular in identifying a truthful once-a-year salary for the positions.

The listers at present are elected, aspect-time personnel who do not have to be skillfully competent in the discipline. They are compensated an hourly level.

The ballot proposal, if authorised, would remove the elected lister posts, to be replaced by a hired assessor who is professionally capable for the role.


Periodic complaints about a lack of cooperation and/or coordination amongst the unbiased elected officers in the office environment have been elevated for many years in town.

These problems arrived to a head through the temporary tenure of previous Town Administrator Michael Walker, who was fired by the board in late 2019 and has not been changed.

Some residents and board users reported Walker unsuccessful to cooperate with or experimented with to give orders to the elected officers. His supporters contended the fact all have been independently elected and not less than possibly the town’s first administrator or the Pick out Board helped make in a “hornet’s nest” in the cramped town offices.

If the ballot referendums are passed, the board would then seek the services of and could hearth the clerk, the treasurer, listers and the delinquent tax collector.

Board member Harry “Jamie” Percey said Tuesday that the changes would help get all of the officials “on the similar page with each other.”

Making appointed positions “addresses a good deal of the fears that regularly pop up” in Pownal authorities, Gardner claimed.

Dragon said she advised to the board a hashish referendum, to let the city to debate the concern and give a potential enhance for area firms.

6 forms of licenses are envisioned to grow to be offered beneath the point out laws to just take impact following calendar year: cultivator, wholesaler, product or service company, testing laboratory, retailer, and integrated licensee.