HARRISON — Selectmen decided to drop the tax rate by 5 cents to $9.75 per $1,000 of valuation at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Selectman Eddie Rolfe tried to persuade the board to keep the rate at $9.80, because of the uncertain economic future, but his motion was defeated.

Arguing for the current rate, Selectman Lisa Villa said the $9.80 level would mean an increase in the overlay of $34,000.

“I don’t think we should be nailing the taxpayers,” Selectman Bill Goodwin said.

Selectman Kathy LaPlante agreed, saying, “Five cents on a thousand doesn’t sound like much, but for some people it is.”

Villa said she agreed with Goodwin and LaPlante.

All five selectmen voted in favor of a subsequent motion to set the rate at $9.75.

The only other agenda item was a discussion on whether the town should hire an interim town manager. Current Town Manager Brad Plante gave a 30-day notice last week, and will end his duties Sept. 17.

On this issue, Rolfe again was at odds with the other four selectmen. He argued that the office staff and the chairman (Bill Winslow) and vice chairman (Lisa Villa) would be able to handle whatever problems arise until a new town manager can be found.

“I don’t disagree,” LaPlante said, referring to the expertise of the town office staff.

“But I think that’s putting a very big responsibility on them, and I think that we need to hire someone,” she said.

Goodwin agreed.

“I feel strongly that we need an interim town manager,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to come up, and if we have labor problems, we may have to go through the appeals process.” The town was recently notified that seven of 14 town employees have signed a petition calling for a vote to unionize with the Teamsters.

Villa urged that in the search for an interim town manager, the town should invite any of the candidates who are interested to also apply for the permanent town manager position.

Rolfe urged the board not to rush into the hiring process, saying during his tenure on a prior board, “we rushed into it and hired a guy from Massachusetts who was a dump attendant, and we didn’t know it.”

Because three of the selectmen will be out of town on the next regularly scheduled meeting night, Sept. 7, they decided to change the meeting to next Thursday, Sept. 2.


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