WOODFORD -- Woodford treasurer Jim Horrigan met with the Woodford Hollow School Board on Wednesday for the final time, after tendering his resignation before the select board last month.
In Woodford, the town treasurer, which is an elected position, also serves as the school treasurer. According to school board member Avis Bruce-Hurley, "Most towns have disconnected [the positions], or at least many have, and I believe it's most. A few small towns like us are hanging on, but now we've hit a wall of problems."
Bruce-Hurley was referring to the conflict, which recently came to light, between Horrigan and select board Chairman Ryan Thurber, which caused Horrigan to resign from his position after just a year. Bruce-Hurley suggested that Woodford should move to separate the school and town treasurer positions, which would require a vote of the townspeople. Bruce-Hurley said that she believed it was the school board's call to put that decision before voters, but she and Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Superintendent Catherine McClure agreed to seek legal counsel on that point.
Bruce-Hurley added that special meetings are expensive, so the school board should look toward a November election. The select board will appoint a new treasurer soon, who will serve as the school treasurer unless the positions end up being separated. Bruce-Hurley said that she had spoken with one of the potential appointees for the position, and she said that that person seemed hesitant to become involved in the town politics that had driven Horrigan to resign, but had no problem with the schools.
Horrigan's report focused on the approximately $50,000 owed by the town of Woodford to the Mount Anthony Union and Woodford Hollow school districts. Horrigan said the town will pay about $20,000 by the end of this week, and hopes to have collected the rest by the June 30 deadline. Horrigan reported that the town's delinquent tax collector will soon be starting the legal process of initiating tax sales to collect on the $65,000 in delinquent taxes still owed to the town. Horrigan said another option was, if and when the town's audit is complete, the town may be able to borrow the money to pay the schools.
SVSU chief financial officer Rick Pembroke indicated that he wasn't yet worried, saying that he, "believes in the power of positive thinking."
At the end of his report, Horrigan thanked the school board for their support, saying, "You people have all been great, and the people down at the SVSU have been great."
Bruce-Hurley thanked him in return, saying, "We thank you very much for all the work you did." The board, at the end of the meeting, decided to send Horrigan a letter thanking him for his service.
Wednesday's meeting also served as the post-town meeting organizational meeting for the board. The board will feature Mark Tilley as chairman, Dick Frantz as vice chairman, and Bruce-Hurley as clerk -- the same configuration as last year. Bruce-Hurley and Frantz will serve as Woodford's representatives to the SVSU board, with Tilley serving as an alternate.
Pembroke suggested that the school board recommend a candidate for the vacant Woodford seat on the Mount Anthony Union school board. While the MAU board will appoint the candidate, Pembroke said they would give a recommendation from the Woodford board weight. The position is vacant as no write-in candidates were able to get the minimum number of votes. There is not currently a time table for an appointment.
The board also discussed the prospect of getting four new locks for interior doors at the school. The school has received a quote for $1,922 for the whole package, but Pembroke said that he may be able to get a bulk deal with another school that is also looking to purchase locks. He will report back to the board at their next meeting. The board agreed to approve expenses up to $2,000 for new locks, although Pembroke said, "I would set [$1,922] as your high, it's not going to go any higher than that."
Tilley thanked Bruce-Hurley and Frantz for their commitment, saying, "We really appreciate Mr. Frantz and Mrs. Hurley for staying on."
"I didn't think I had a choice," muttered Frantz.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB