VIENNA — Residents voted to increase what the town pays for the vacant newsletter editor position, as well as the town’s webmaster, and discussed but decided against doing the same for the code enforcement officer at Saturday morning’s annual Town Meeting.

Overall, the budget items approved by the approximately 35 voters at the meeting are expected to result in an increase in town spending of about $25,000, according to Selectboard Chairwoman Dodi Thompson.

Residents approved amendments to add to the approximately $594,000 town budget, though only by a little bit Saturday, adding $250 to the compensation of the town newsletter editor and town webmaster, increasing each from $500 to $750 per year.

With the newsletter editor position currently vacant, the resident who moved to increase funding noted that maybe upping the pay to $750 could help attract someone to take on the role.

That prompted resident Marianne Archard to suggest that maintaining the town’s website is just as hard, if not harder, than putting out the newsletter. So she proposed an amendment, which residents approved, to also up the pay of the webmaster to $750.

Residents later discussed, but decided against, increasing the pay for the code enforcement officer, a position held by Gary Fuller.

Dan Onion, the town’s health officer, expressed concern that the proposed $15 an hour, plus fees generated from permits, for the code enforcement officer might not be enough to pay someone who could provide consistent access to the town when code issues need to be dealt with.

“As health officer, I depend on a reliable code enforcement officer,” Onion said. “It’s important to me we have somebody available. Is this going to be sufficient?”

John Archard, plumbing inspector and a former codes officer for the town, said $15 is what he was paid, and he had no problem with that amount.

Selectman Chris Smith said Fuller has not asked for a raise and has done excellent work for the town, sometimes even not charging the town when he came to Vienna to do some code enforcement work last year.

“If Gary’s not asking for a raise, I don’t think we need to raise that amount,” Archard said.

Residents agreed and approved $15 an hour for the codes officer, the amount recommended by selectmen.

Residents took just over an hour to plow through the 53 warrant articles.

The meeting was preceded, Friday night, by the town election, which featured only one candidate, Smith, who was re-elected as a selectman with 25 votes, topping two residents who each got one write-in vote apiece, according to Steve Hayes who moderated Saturday’s meeting.

Hayes opened by telling residents it was their town meeting and his job to assist them. He said he’d follow the standard rules for town meetings, but if residents had a problem with any of his rulings, they could decide to use whatever rules they wanted to resolve the issue.

“Which sounds perfectly Vienna to me,” Hayes joked.

While discussing an article providing $2,200 to pay the interest on a tax anticipation note, if the town needs one to pay bills before taxes are collected, resident Ken Kokernak, a former municipal official in the area, suggested the town should change its fiscal year to a July-to-June schedule. He said it’d be easy to do and would make it easier on taxpayers as they’d have their two tax payments spread out over six months, instead of the current three months.

Thompson and Selectman Jeff Rackliff said the town hasn’t needed to get a tax anticipation note in several years, and the $2,200 was just in case it’s needed.

Hayes noted changing the fiscal year isn’t something that could be done at Saturday’s meeting anyway because no such proposal was included on the warrant.

On a motion from Fire Chief Brian Church, residents amended an article fixing the pay for firefighters for attendance at training sessions and fire calls from the initially recommended $11 an hour to, instead, the state minimum wage. Church said that would prevent residents from having to vote to increase that pay when the state’s minimum wage increases.

 

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]
Twitter: @kedwardskj

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