NEW SHARON — During a special town meeting Wednesday, townspeople chose to keep their right to elect the town clerk and tax collector at the annual town meeting.
In just over an hour, about 75 residents moved through the eight articles on the warrant. The 5:30 p.m. meeting was moved from the Town Office to the Congregational Church to accommodate all who turned out.
After the town clerk, elected in March, recently resigned for another position, the Board of Selectmen had the right to appoint a clerk to fill the position until March.
Board members could see advantages for the town if they continued appointing the positions, making them jobs rather than elected offices.
Some townspeople resisted, expressing how they have fewer and fewer opportunities to participate in governing their own town.
“We are the legislative body,” Bob Neal said. “It shouldn’t be given away.”
Others agreed it was giving up their ability to elect who they like.
“We didn’t think (the articles) would pass in our town, but it would make sense if it did,” Selectman Travis Pond said.
Voters also wanted to continue to let those elected set their own office hours rather than giving the board that authority.
If the elected person doesn’t hold regular hours, we’ll just not elect them again next year, Neal said.
In other articles, voters agreed to let the board dispose of granite blocks and the former library building. But they wanted to amend the article so the board could only dispose of the blocks and building and not other town property in the future.
When the state tore down the iron bridge, granite blocks were given to the town but they continue to sit on state property.
While the board has tried to sell them to residents who wanted a “little piece of history,” few have been sold. Offers from outside concerns indicate a larger price might be negotiated, Selectman Milt Sinclair said.
The former library is vacant and becoming a liability for the town with no return, Pond said.
A unanimous vote by townspeople gave municipal officers the right to enter in to a multi-year contract for sanding, plowing and removal of snow.
Voters also approved allowing board members to rent out space at the Town Office.
It is a big, beautiful building but one that needs some upgrades and costs $12,000 to heat, Pond said. The rental funds would help maintain the building.
Townspeople authorized the transfer of funds appropriated for the now-dissolved New Sharon Historical Society to the town. Selectmen will oversee use of funds and care for historical items as advised by the new Historical Committee.