Shaftsbury Select Board reorganizes, improves efficiency


SHAFTSBURY -- The Shaftsbury select board met on Monday for the first time since Town Meeting and elected new officers after the departures of Chairwoman Karen Mellinger and Vice Chairman Carl Korman.

Scoggins tapped as chairman

Selectman Mitch Race nominated Tim Scoggins for the position of chairman, and new member Art Whitman seconded the nomination. Scoggins was elected by a unanimous vote of 4-0, as Ken Harrington, the longest serving member of the board, having been elected last March, was unable to attend the meeting, as he is recovering from an accident suffered a few weeks ago.

Scoggins had been the most junior member of the select board prior to this year's election, having been appointed at the end of September to replace then-chairman Craig Bruder, who was leaving Shaftsbury for work-related reasons.

Scoggins then nominated Race for the position of vice-chairman. He was also elected unanimously. Race is the longest-serving member on the board after Harrington, as he was appointed to the board in May after Billy Obenauer resigned to pursue a master's degree. Race had run against Harrington in the March election. Both Race and Scoggins were elected to their positions in November, both in uncontested races.

Scoggins wasted no time in offering suggestions to improve the efficiency of the board. He suggested that all board discussion be done within the confines of a motion, which he said would keep brainstorming and discussions focused and on topic, allowing the board to be more efficient, and hopefully make the meetings, which had typically run over three hours, shorter.

Previously, discussions could spiral out of control and the board could spend nearly an hour discussing, for example, the role of constables in Shaftsbury, when the agenda only called for a 15-minute discussion on the term limits of the constables. The board agreed to attempt to stick to this system, at least for a few meetings, to see if it was effective.

The board had several other post-town meeting re-organizational matters to discuss. Splitting up liaison duties, Scoggins took over all of Mellinger's duties, but requested to remain the board's liaison with the schools. Race took over most of the duties of Korman, Whitman took over most of Scoggins' former roles, and newly elected Tony Krulikowski took on most of Race's former responsibilities. Harrington's role remained unchanged. The board did not finalize these duties, however, as they wanted to consult Harrington before doing so.

Additionally, no one running for the position of Town Grand Juror had received enough votes to be elected as a write-in candidate. Town Administrator Margy Becker said that the position of grand juror was, "a rather antiquated position," with most of its duties now being fulfilled by the state's attorney. The board would have the option of either appointing a candidate, or seeking letters of interest and holding an election. Whitman suggested that perhaps the town agent could be named the grand juror as well, as the position seemed to primarily be a ceremonial one. The board agreed to take no action on the issue, and Scoggins asked Becker to consult town attorney Ron Woolmington on whether or not the position could be eliminated, and what the process for doing so would be.

The voters of Shaftsbury had also voted down to community appropriations, totaling $2,700. The first was $1,700 that would have gone to the Bennington-Rutland Opportunity Council, while the second was $1,000 that would have gone to the Park-McCullough House. As this money represents a very small portion of the budget, the board decided to add that money to the fund balance, rather than adjusting the amount to be taxed, as it would not have changed the tax rate by any perceivable margin. The fund balance is often applied to future years' budgets, or to cover overspent line items, although Shaftsbury typically runs a fund surplus at the end of each fiscal year.

The board also appointed Tracy Mulligan as animal control officer, Gerald Madison as emergency management director, and Ben Hulett as emergency coordinator. Each had been the only person to apply for their respective positions.

The liquor license of Thyme Tables, 180 Church St., was also unanimously approved for another year. "They seem to be doing a good job," said Race.

"We haven't had to break up a fight there lately," joked Whitman.

Becker closed the meeting by inviting both of the new select board members to stop into her office and see her to discuss any questions or concerns that they may have in their new positions, mentioning that Harrington stopped in her office frequently, and encouraging them to do the same.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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