PITTSTON — Residents angry about the selectmen’s dismissal of a longtime town clerk more than a week ago made their rancor felt at Saturday’s annual Town Meeting.

The public voted to remove the equivalent of former Town Clerk Ann Chadwick’s salary — $31,000 — from the budget, making it more difficult for the town to hire a replacement.

They also cut the funding for that position’s retirement match and rejected the $9,000 request to fund legal services.

Residents passed all other warrant items, for a total budget of $1,130,823 at the three-hour meeting, held at Pittston Elementary School. The portion raised by taxes increased almost 6 percent compared to last year.

Almost 250 members of the public attended the meeting, up only slightly from last year.

Some residents tried to eliminate funding specifically for the salary by voting on the general administrative services budget item by item.

However, the meeting’s moderator, Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, told the residents that only the total funding request could be approved or denied, not the individual line items.

The public approved $297,817 for the general administrative services budget, which includes employee pay and operational and service expenses for the town.

Tracy Johnson, Chadwick’s niece and one of the organizers of the petition to recall the selectmen, said she thinks the funding request should have been lowered since there is one less employee.

She also said whoever is hired to replace Chadwick shouldn’t start at the same salary.

Selectwoman Wanda Burns-Macomber, who is up for re-election Monday, said eliminating the $31,000 gives the board members less wiggle room when deciding how the budget will be spent.

She said there hasn’t been a decision on whether to replace Chadwick, but not having the money will mean the current office staff members won’t be getting raises for doing more work.

“If you don’t fund another position, you don’t have another position,” she told the audience.

It appears unlikely Burns-Macomber will be re-elected Monday, given that Chadwick supporters filed petitions last week with triple the signatures needed to trigger a recall election for the selectmen.

Burns-Macomber said the possibility of the state cutting funding for municipalities this year makes the $31,000 hole more damaging.

“Whoever gets in office is going to have to catch up fast,” she said.

Another contentious issue was the decision to lower the discount given to tax bills turned in early from 1.5 percent to 1 percent.

Some taxpayers said they want the discount increased back to 2 percent, but funding requests on the warrant can’t be increased at Town Meetings.

Voters grudgingly approved the item, because rejecting it would mean eliminating the discount entirely.

Vicki Kelley, one of the more outspoken residents at the meeting, said the tax discount helps people who need it and is one of the positives of living in Pittston.

“We don’t get many benefits in this town,” she said. “I can’t think of any.”

Besides the selectman’s seat, residents will vote for a Personnel Board member, a Planning Board member and three Budget Committee members in Monday’s election, to be held from non to 7 p.m. at the Town Office.

Jane Hubert and Stanley Byrne, both former members of the Board of Selectmen, are challenging Burns-Macomber for her seat. No candidates are seeking the other positions.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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