SUNDERLAND -- The Town of Sunderland currently has six open positions in town government, and is continuing to search for community members to fill them.

In total, the town is looking for a select board member, a planning board member, a zoning administrator, a lister, an auditor, and an emergency management director.

Mark Hyde, chairman of the select board, said that generating interest in the positions has so far been difficult. "It has been a struggle to fill many of the open positions in Sunderland," he said, "We have been looking for a lister and auditor since the March election, but have not yet found anyone with interest. Many people currently involved in Sunderland's town government are in more than one role because of the lack of participation."

The seat on the select board became available on July 23, when board member David Kiernan stepped down from the position to become Shaftsbury's new town administrator. Kiernan had been an active member of both the select board and planning board in Sunderland, and had been serving as Shaftsbury's zoning administrator. "I think it is a great loss to the town that David Kiernan has stepped down," said Hyde, "David has been a great asset to the town in a variety of roles: Select board clerk, planning board member, emergency management director, and zoning administrator. David was a strong supporter of the town hall project, and was always willing to help out when needed.


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As emergency management director, he was integral in completing the town's Hazard Mitigation Plan, which was recently submitted to FEMA. Someone like David, with enthusiasm and interest in working in town government, is surprisingly difficult to find these days."

The select board is hoping to appoint its newest member at their next meeting, on Aug. 18. Whomever is appointed to that position will hold it until the election in March, according to Hyde, at which point they would be required to run for re-election. Hyde stressed that no experience is necessary for a seat on the board, which meets on the first and third Monday of every month at the Sunderland Elementary School at 7 p.m. In Sunderland, members of the select board are also members of the Board of Civil Authority, which meets a few times a year to handle voting and tax grievances.

The planning board meets the second Wednesday of every month at Sunderland Elementary School. The new member will also be appointed by the select board, and will serve the remainder of the term, which expires March 2015. Hyde again stressed that no experience was necessary.

The planning board, Hyde said, handles new development and change of use within the town.

The zoning administrator manages and performs administrative activities, reviews and issues permits, assures compliance with zoning ordinances and related laws and regulations, and performs other duties related to zoning enforcement, according to Hyde. This position is part-time (3-5 hours per week), and does require experience.

The ZA is also required to attend all planning board meetings. The town appointed John Stuermer, who also serves as a lister, planning board member, zoning board member, and health officer for the town, as interim ZA at their last meeting.

The lister and auditor positions are both part-time paid positions as well, said Hyde. Listers are responsible for determining the assessment each person in town pays taxes on, and are directed to appraise all taxable property in the town. Auditors have two primary responsibilities, according to Hyde. First, they must, "examine and adjust the accounts of all town and town school district officers and all other persons authorized by law to draw orders on the town treasurer."

The second responsibility, he said, is to, "report their findings in writing and to cause the same to be mailed or otherwise distributed to the legal voters of the town."

The town employs three people in each of the two positions, with Stuermer and Peter VanVleck Jr. currently serving as listers and Alicia Zimmerman and Cynthia Herrmann serving as auditors.

Finally, the emergency management director is responsible for preparing the town for emergencies, such as Hurricane Irene, and understanding the contacts and communications needed in case of such an emergency.

Hyde said that anyone interested in the positions could contact him at mhyde@sunderlandvt.org or town clerk Rose Keough at town@sunderlandvt.org.

"The only thing required," he said, "is a willingness to learn and be involved."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB