HEBRON — Voters elected a new selectperson, approved funding for a new plow, and gave the Board of Selectmen a raise during Saturday’s Annual Town Meeting.
About 40 voters showed up for the meeting at the Hebron Station School approving about $840,000 for the new municipal budget, during action to dissolve the 57-article warrant.
Beth Olsen, a six-year resident of Hebron who serves as Oxford Town Clerk, was elected to the Board of Selectmen on a 28 to 1 vote, with one vote going to incumbent Selectman Jim Reid who said he chose not to run again for a three-year term, but may be back in the future.
A nomination from the floor to put Josh Hounsell’s name into consideration was declined by Hounsell who thanked voters for the honor of being nominated but said time constraints would keep him from doing the best job he could.
He then thanked outgoing Selectman Reid for his mentorship while serving on committee such as the Road Committee and Recreation Committee over the last 10 years.
Lewis Williams was voted in for a another term on the SAD 17 Board of Directors and Jane Hatch received the nod for another term as incumbent Moody Library Trustee.
Harold “Bunky” Hall and Peter Rearick were re-elected as Budget Committee members.
Selectmen were given a 25 percent raise after much discussion by voters who approved raising the chairman’s salary from $12,000 to $15,000 and raising each of the other two selectmen’s salaries from $6,000 to $7,500.
This is the second raise for the selectmen since 2005 and the third for the chairman since 2005. The chairman’s raise equals out to about $14 an hour.
Selectman Dan Eichorn said the chairman works 20 to 25 hours a week at the town office and it is clear to him that when Chairman Richard Deans does not seek reelection, the town will have to consider a town manager form of government. At that point the selectmen’s salaries will drop dramatically in order to pay for the high cost of a town manager, he said.
The selectmen’s duties are detailed in state statute, but in the case of Hebron, that does not employ a town administrator or administrative assistant, selectmen are responsible for everything from payroll to fielding resident’s daily calls. They also act as road commissioners, preparing the budget and determining the scope of work for the road foreman.
In other action, voters approved $45,000 for the operation of the Fire Department, $85,000 for the operation of the Transfer Station $12,500 for the Town Garage account and $40,000 for the care and maintenance of town equipment.
Voters also gave the Recreation Committee $2,000 for the care of Packard Field and its buildings but not before lengthy conversation about the care of the field and the need for volunteers who use the field to step up to the plate and help maintain it.
Selectmen told voters that the town currently has about $1.45 million in the General Fund, according to the town audit that just occurred this week.
The town runs on a calendar year, and its appropriations are done at a March annual town meeting. Because high price items like the school budget assessment are not known until June, it is hard to be specific about how much money is available in the fund at any given time, said Selectman Dan Eichorn.
Eichorn said auditors base their recommendations on what they anticipate the school budget will be, the amount of property taxes that will be taken in and so forth.
The high number that is currently in the General Fund is because property taxes were just collected, said Eichorn. By September there will be much less in the Fund, he said.