PITTSTON — Selectmen will host an information session today on why they’ve scheduled a July 18 Town Meeting to add money to the previously approved town budget.

The Board of Selectmen’s session begins at 6 p.m. at the Town Office, before its regularly scheduled meeting, to discuss an upcoming special town meeting to vote on the $50,000 budget addition.

The town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, July 18, at the Town Office, but that could get pushed back if the select board members don’t find out the tax levy limit in time, Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Jane Hubert said.

The warrant for the meeting must be posted seven days before it’s held, she said.

The majority of the roughly $50,000 the Budget Committee has approved for the special town meeting request will restore funding cut at the March Town Meeting and to pay for an unemployment compensation bill.

The draft of the special town meeting warrant also asks residents to approve transferring more than $10,000 from the gravel pit and capital improvements account to pay the ambulance bill and outstanding legal fees.

Hubert expects this year’s tax bills to go up, but she said won’t know how much the additional funding requests will affect the tax rate until after the special town meeting.

The $1,130,823 budget approved by residents in March increased the amount the town must raise in taxes by almost 6 percent over last year.

The town owes a little more than $8,000 in legal fees accumulated in February and March by the last select boardmembers.

They racked up the fees consulting with lawyers before the March decision to dismiss the longtime town clerk and the subsequent backlash that culminated in a petition effort by residents to recall the three-member board and two town employees.

One selectman resigned, one was defeated in the municipal election and the third was recalled.

The $9,000 in unemployment expenses was announced by the board at its May 15 meeting. The town can’t reveal to whom it’s owed, because unemployment files are confidential.

The draft warrant approved by the Budget Committee is requesting $37,000 in additional funding for salaries and benefits for town office employees.

Residents voted to remove $31,000, the equivalent of former town clerk’s salary from the budget, at the March Town Meeting.

Hubert said the town needs more than the $31,000 because it had to pay for accrued sick and vacation time when employees left, as well as stipends for additional staff time.

The town experienced some shuffling of its office staff after the last select board dismissed Ann Chadwick as town clerk.

The treasurer and tax collector, Rose Webster, filled Chadwick’s shoes as town clerk, before Webster resigned effective June 5 to become the town clerk in Farmingdale.

The last month the town hired Deborah Barry as the town clerk, and Sarah McLaughlin as tax collector and treasurer.

Hubert said the town won’t be able to pay for the new hires if residents don’t approve the additional money.

“I’m hoping that people will realize the importance of funding these positions,” she said. “It’s not something that would be nice to have. We need them. It’s required by law.”

Without a town clerk, tax collector and treasurer, the state would take over the town, Hubert said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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