Buxton voters will decide on charter changes at town meeting in June that would eliminate a pair of elected posts, road commissioner and town treasurer.
The Board of Selectmen, which is proposing the changes, have set a hearing for 7 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 6, in the town hall to hear public comment on changes to the town’s charter, which will go to voters on June 14.
One proposed charter change would appoint the town treasurer, which is now combined with town clerk as an elected position. If town voters agree, the town’s treasurer would operate under the direction of the Board of Selectmen. Jean Harmon, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the treasurer post would be part-time initially but could eventually change to full-time.
Selectman Robert Libby said Town Clerk John Myers requested splitting the two posts. With the population of Buxton increasing, the workload was a little more than he can handle, although he has a deputy clerk.
Libby said that a treasurer would work about 24 hours a week at town hall. He said the treasurer would work at an hourly rate that hadn’t been set yet.
In another proposed charter change, a Public Works Department would be created, eliminating the election of a road commissioner. A director of Public Works would be a working supervisory position appointed by selectmen.
The proposed move comes after Sharon Elwell retired last fall after 33 years as Buxton’s road commissioner. Libby said that a director of Public Works would be paid the same salary as a road commissioner.
Under the present charter, Harmon said an individual elected to either of the two posts doesn’t necessarily mean most qualified, and the shift to appointed positions would also allow the town to hire someone who doesn’t live in Buxton.
“It would give us a better selection process,” said Harmon.
Harmon, Libby unchallenged
With less than a month to file nomination papers, two incumbent Buxton selectmen remained unchallenged on Monday.
Harmon and Libby are among eight seeking reelection to various posts in town. Ann Rand, currently one of three SAD 6 directors from Buxton, hadn’t taken out papers at noon on Monday.
Nomination papers for 19 elected seats in Buxton are due in the office of Town Clerk John Myers by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 2. Nomination papers require 25 signatures.
None of the nine who have taken out nomination papers had returned them by noon Monday. The election, which includes the State of Maine Primary election and the annual SAD 6 budget referendum, will be on Tuesday, June 14. The annual town meeting will be on Saturday, June 14.
Harmon and Libby are each unopposed thus far in reelection as selectmen. Others who have taken out nomination papers include John Myers, town clerk and treasurer; Susan Myers, tax collector; Lary Owens, road commissioner; James Smith Jr., director of SAD 6; and Cullen Ryan, Planning Board.
Ryan was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Planning Board, and Owens was appointed to fill the vacancy created last fall when Sharon Elwell retired as road commissioner. Each of the seven seats is a three-year term.
If Myers were reelected to the duel post as town clerk and treasuer and if voters also chose Owens for road commissioner, Libby said a charter change would take precedence.
No one has taken out papers for a two-year term on the Planning Board, a three-year term on the Personnel Review Committee and nine available openings on the Budget Committee. Terms available for the Budget Committee include two one-year terms, three two-year terms and four three-year terms. Myers said the openings on the Budget Committee represent a learning opportunity for those wishing to enter town politics.
Projected revenue sharing down for Buxton
Buxton is one of the state’s 10 hardest hit communities in loss of state revenue sharing for the 2006 fiscal year under the LD 1 tax reform, according to the Maine Municipal Association. But Buxton Selectman Clifford Emery said that the town didn’t have exact figures last week of how much the town would lose.
Mike Starn of the MMA said on Tuesday that Buxton received $488,898 in revenue sharing this year, but that would dip by more than $15,000 for the 2006 fiscal year, according to an MMA projection in January.
The MMA calculated that the 10 hardest hit, which includes Scarborough and Standish, would collectively lose $426,000. Portland is among the top 10, which are gaining $1.2 million collectively in state revenue sharing.