Annual Town Meeting voters approved an article Saturday that will prohibit a municipal officer from being an employee or an independent contractor for the town as well as a $464,925 budget.

The article  comes after a heated selectmen’s meeting in November had more than 30 residents airing grievances with the board and more specifically with former First Selectman Vernon Worthen.

A week before the meeting Worthen had backed out of a plowing contract he had with the town because of apparent health reasons. In response, the board signed a contract with Mercer Sand & Gravel for $150,000 — a $15,000 increase from Worthen’s $135,000 contract.

Residents at the Nov. 21 meeting said they wanted Worthen to be liable to pay the town the $15,000 difference between the contracts and called for a change in how the town allows municipal officers to have contracts in the first place.

“In a perfect world, I would agree that select people shouldn’t have contracts,” Worthen said on Nov. 21. “But this is a town of 600 people.”

Residents also took issue with Worthen’s bids on the pellet boiler system and oil boiler system at the Town Office.

In 2012, the town put out a bid request for a pellet boiler system and received two bids, each for more than $120,000. Worthen presented a bid for less than $100,000 and was awarded the project.

In 2017, the oil boiler at the building failed and a bid was put out for a replacement. The town received an estimate from Bob’s Cash Fuel of Madison, but Worthen presented a lower bid and again was awarded the project.

Both boilers eventually experienced problems.

The article approved by the 80 voters at Saturday’s meeting now eliminates the conflict of interest residents saw with allowing municipal officers to have contracts with the town.

Voters also approved an article that requires any work done on behalf of the town that exceeds $500 to have a written contract. They also approved an article that implements a policy that any vendor, service provider, contractor or individual must present an itemized invoice, receipt of purchase or other proof of work prior to approval by the selectmen and receiving payment.

Another issue that residents ran into regarding Worthen was the inability to remove him from his position as first selectman because the town doesn’t have a charter. To rectify the situation, voters at Saturday’s meeting approved forming a committee to research town charters and present the research to the selectmen at next year’s Town Meeting. They also approved an ordinance that details a new process for removing a municipal officer.

Big ticket items that voters approved include $60,000 from taxes and $20,000 from the Town Forest Fund for summer road maintenance and $155,000 from excise taxes and $75,000 from taxes for winter road maintenance.

Municipal elections were held on March 3.

Voters elected Ricky J. Parlin as first selectman, Dari Hurley as third selectman and reelected Gary D. Mosher as second selectman. All municipal officers have a term of one year.

Cherie L. Sadler was elected as a Shaw Library Trustee and Joan C. Nunnally was elected to the planning board.

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