VIENNA — Vienna residents have approved transferring $7,000 out of the surplus fund to be used to join a coalition looking into broadband internet service and to supplement expenses for the treasurer. 

The first article, which was approved unanimously Wednesday, asked to authorize selectmen to join a coalition that is researching the need and availability of high-speed broadband. A total of $4,000 will be transferred from the surplus account and appropriated into the administration account.

Formed in January, the coalition comprises Mount Vernon, Fayette, Readfield, Wayne and Leeds. It has received a matching grant of $12,000 from ConnectME to hire a consultant to do this research.

“I think that the research that goes into studying this will help us decide what to do,” said Mark Rains, who has been a resident of Vienna for 20 years. “I am very in favor of the $4,000 to join the coalition and research it.

“I like studying what the variety of approaches will be,” he added, “rather than making decisions one way or the other.”

Residents also approved appropriating and transferring $3,000 from the surplus to administration in order to supplement the expenses for the position of treasurer. 

Felicia Audet was appointed as interim treasurer after Marti Gross died unexpectedly in May. Gross, 72, had been the treasurer for Vienna and Mount Vernon.

Of the funds, $2,300 will be used to supplement the salary of Audet, said Dodi Thompson, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, and $700 for training for the new treasurer to be able to use the town’s software.

The salary supplement was needed because, as Thompson told residents Tuesday night, Gross had withdrawn more than five months’ worth of salary from what the town allotted for a year’s salary. 

“(Town employees) take money as they need to throughout the year,” said Thompson in an interview Wednesday, “so (Gross) had taken more than five months’ worth.”

To the Board’s knowledge, she said Gross became ill very suddenly.

“It was tragic the way she died,” Thompson said. 

The town has no policy stating that a worker cannot take what they have not already worked for once their salary has been approved at Town Meeting, explained Thompson Wednesday. Compensation for the treasurer was approved at $6,500 in March. 

“We decided that since she was our treasurer for 18 years, we would not go after her estate,” Thompson told residents in the meeting. 

The article passed unanimously.

The special town meeting was attended by 23 voters. 

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