PITTSTON — Residents signed off on all funding requests, totaling almost $60,000, at Thursday night’s special town meeting.

The additional funding, $39,200 of which will come from taxes, faced little opposition at the meeting attended by almost 70 residents.

Most of the requests were to restore money cut from the $1.13 million budget at March Town Meeting, along with several unexpected bills.

Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Jane Hubert said before the meeting that she expects taxes to rise slightly this year, but she doesn’t think it will be a major increase.

The warrant articles that garnered the most objections were the Board of the Selectmen’s recommendation to lower the legal fees request from $4,000 to $2,000 and the decision to pay an unemployment compensation bill out of a reserve account.

The Budget Committee recommended paying the $9,367 unemployment bill from taxes, but the board added another question to pay for it out of the gravel pit and capital improvements account.

Residents voted to approve the funding out of the reserve account instead of taxes.

The largest request was $37,000 to fund the salaries and benefits of the new town clerk and the new treasurer and tax collector, stipends from additional work and accrued time from former employees.

Voters upset over the former board’s decision in March to dismiss the longtime town clerk removed $31,000 — roughly the equivalent of the former town clerk’s salary — from the general administrative services account at the March Town Meeting.

The former select board members voted to not reappoint Ann Chadwick as town clerk in March because of issues with her performance.

The town can’t reveal to whom the unemployment bill is owed, because unemployment files are confidential.

Rose Webster and Chadwick are the only town employees who have left this year, according to Hubert.

Webster, the former tax collector and treasurer, also became town clerk after Chadwick left. Webster resigned effective June 5 to become the town clerk in Farmingdale.

Tim Lawrence, a member of the Budget Committee, warned that $2,000 for legal fees through the end of the year might not be enough if the town is faced with legal troubles.

“Something may come up, may not come up, but I think we’re really taking a risk here,” Lawrence said.
Another item that caused some debate was the roughly $8,000 outstanding legal bill accrued at the beginning of this year by the last select board.

Resident Patricia Philbrook said she didn’t want to appropriate money for the bill because she thinks the former select board members should pay for it.

The current board voted to send a bill to the three former board members, but the letters haven’t been sent yet.

“I fear that if we pay this, we’ll never get the money back,” Philbrook said.

Hubert said after the meeting that she was pleased with the results and with the discussions.

“I think the town is at a turning point,” she said. “We’re going to move on. There wasn’t a lot of animosity.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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