Incumbent Pownal treasurer faces challenger

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POWNAL — The town ballot will include a contest this year for a three-year term as treasurer, with incumbent Ellen Strohmaier facing a challenge from Priscilla Maxon.

Each woman responded to a series of questions in a Bennington Banner survey for local candidates.

The annual town election will be held on March 6, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with voting at the Pownal Center Firehouse.

The annual floor meeting will be held March 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the elementary school.

Priscilla Maxon

"My goals for running as town treasurer would be to promote good financial standards, transparency and precise financial reporting," Maxon said. "I know the importance of this job and the detail and accuracy that is required; but most of all it is to serve the public with dignity and respect."

As owner and business manager of Maxon Trucking Ltd., she said she is responsible for adhering to several state, federal and local filings and permits, and for communicating with agencies like the New York and Vermont tax departments and divisions of corporations, as well as dealing with highway use taxes, the International Fuel Tax Agreement and the Mine Safety and Health Administration requirements.

As a property manager/compliance specialist, Maxon said she's responsible for the compliance of 300 units with oversight by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Housing Vermont and the Vermont Housing Conservation Board.

"I am detail-oriented, organized and timely," she said. "I understand the legal liabilities that come with such a position, and am capable of handling figures and large sums of cash."

Maxon said she has been told by residents of financial difficulties within town government, adding, "My first priority would be to improve communication with co-workers, the select board and town residents. I would ensure that reports are filed correctly and on time; look at the position with a fresh eye and determine what the financial concerns are."

Maxon said he served as a town assessor for 12 years. She holds an associate of science degree in paralegal studies and an associate degree in business management; is a Vermont notary public, Certified Financial Specialist, former H&R Block tax form preparer; owner/business manager of Maxon Trucking, which operates the former Barlow gravel yard, and a property manager/compliance specialist.

In 2015, she said, "I purchased the former Barlow gravel pit in North Pownal. I took an inactive gravel pit, reopened it, creating value by moving resources into more productive uses. I have foresight, tenacity and intuition to discover unnoticed opportunities and act on them."

In 2016, she said, "I purchased residential property in North Pownal and now call it home."

She said Maxon Trucking holds a certified status as a Women Business Enterprise.

"I feel as a 'team' the town can prosper," Maxon said. "Prosperity is not just wealth; it includes happiness, health and social awareness."

Ellen Strohmaier

"My goals as treasurer are as they have been in previous years, to keep good financial records for the town of Pownal," Strohmaier said. "To assist the townspeople in any questions or needs they have in regards to budgets, financial status, copies of tax bills, or to direct them to the proper department if I am unable to help."

She added: "I will also assist the Select Board in the budgeting process, and keep all persons involved updated on their budgets, helping them to do their best not to overspend."

A goal, she said, "is to update and make new policies to assist the position to work more efficiently. I feel policies and procedures are important in running any business or municipality."

Strohmaier said "the most pressing issue is to keep the town of Pownal's spending within its budgets. The treasurer's books are kept balanced on a daily basis, and the bank reconciliations are done monthly and audited by a town auditor. The treasurer's records are audited on a yearly basis and have had no issues in the 18 years I have been treasurer."

She said she's received several compliments from both the previous outside auditors the town has hired, in her ability and knowledge of keeping records in the town's New England Municipal Resource Center system.

"Pownal's elected officials and hired staff have worked hard in the past few years to move forward in its process, to update its equipment and its procedures, so we may be more efficient for the townspeople," Strohmaier said. "Change does not happen overnight, and I feel we are moving in the right direction."

Concerning her background, she said, "My experience and education for accounting started at age 15 when I helped with the family [dairy farm] business bookkeeping. I am still involved with this process. I took many accounting classes in both high school and college."

In 1990, Strohmaier said, she ran for delinquent tax collector in Pownal and served for 10 years in that position. In 2000, she ran for treasurer and won her first term in that post.

In 2002, she first ran for treasurer for the Southwest Regional Technical School District and has served in that post for 16 years.

And in 2011, Strohmaier successfully ran for delinquent tax collector in town and has since held both treasurer and delinquent tax collector posts. She also serves as treasurer for the Pownal Elementary School District.

"I am 54 years old and have been a Pownal resident all my life," she said. "I have three children and six grandchildren. I was raised on the family farm on Strohmaier Road. I have held other jobs in my lifetime, including farming, bartender, waitress, hostess, mill work, baker at the Apple Barn, and for a time I was a cashier at the Village Market."     

In January 2017, she said, "I became involved with the Pownal Rescue Squad. I took the class offered and became a certified first responder."

In October, Strohmaier became treasurer for the Pownal Valley Fire Department.


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