NEW SHARON — Residents elected a new selectwoman, decreased the budget slightly and voted down town donations to a number of nonprofits at the Town Meeting on Saturday.
Voters approved a $768,767 budget, down 2.8 percent from the year before, at the six-hour meeting.
Lorna Nichols, a 30-year New Sharon resident and business owner, was elected to the seat previously held by Russell Gardner, with 64 of 125 votes cast.
Gardner received 32 votes, and Leona Carpentier received 28.
In New Sharon, nominations for the Board of Selectmen are taken from the floor the day of the Town Meeting. Nichols was nominated by her husband, Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols.
Lorna Nichols said she promised to listen to resident feedback while she served on the board.
“I’m an ordinary person just like you,” she said. “I do promise honesty, integrity and transparency.”
Road Commissioner John Pond was re-elected unopposed for a second one-year term.
Former tax collector and town clerk Rose Mary McCormick retired from her role after 16 years with the town and received a standing ovation from the residents.
Susan Anneley, McCormick’s assistant, was elected to the position unanimously.
Residents overturned a recommendation by the board to reduce the discount for paying property taxes within 30 days from 5 percent to 3 percent.
The discount is intended as an incentive to get residents to pay their taxes on time; but to fund the discount, taxpayers need to raise more than $50,000. Chairman Maynard Webster said the selectmen suggested reducing the discount to 3 percent, which also would reduce the amount needed to be raised to pay for the discount.
“We just wanted to try to see what would happen,” he said. “It’s your choice.”
Webster said the result means that people who have a $100,000 property might get a discount of about $70, but their taxes would increase about $50 to raise the $50,000 needed to offset the discount, making their net discount closer to $20. Taxpayers who don’t pay on time don’t get the discount and also pay more in taxes to cover other residents’ discounts.
“This discount actually penalized the people who can’t afford to pay on time,” Webster said.
After debate, residents approved a 5 percent discount and approved raising $54,000 to fund the discount and abatements in the upcoming year.
Three nonprofits were denied funding by voters after residents said they did not want to support nonprofits that did not send a representative to the meeting.
Voters overturned requests from Work First, Channel 10 public television and Safe Voices, all of whom did not have a representative at the meeting.
The Healthy Community Coalition did not send a representative to the meeting but was granted $350 in a 20-17 vote. It was the only show-of-hands vote at the meeting close enough to need an exact count.
The American Red Cross and Literacy Volunteers each had a representative at the meeting and were granted full funding for their requests.
Kaitlin Schroeder — firstname.lastname@example.org