WELD — Desires to keep the town’s government small and fiscally tight drove much of the discussion Saturday morning at the annual meeting in the Town Hall.

By about 2:45 p.m. when the nearly five-hour meeting adjourned, voters agreed to raise $162,083 through taxation, to appropriate $115,209 from surplus and to raise $139,957 from other accounts for the municipal budget, Town Clerk Carol Cochran said by email.

The amount to be raised from taxes is $59,913 less than last year’s amount of $221,997, she said.

The budget doesn’t include county and school assessments, which will not be known until June.

Voters also decided what to do with proceeds from the sale of the Weld Elementary School. The school was closed in 2008 and sold at auction in 2010. Voters decided to roll over the $45,341, which will mature on Oct. 22 in a Certificate of Deposit, Cochran said.

Article 8 asked if the town wanted to change the town clerk/tax collector position from a one-year elected term to a three-year appointed term.

Resident Neil Stinneford argued against it, believing it was pushing the town closer to an office-manager type of government.

“The day may come when we have to do that,” he said. “But right now, my preference is to remain a small town, with a small-town, municipal-type government for as long as we can.”

Another man said he thought Weld “has had pretty good continuity” with an elected town clerk/tax collector and didn’t want to change that.

“We’ve been lucky we’ve had someone doing the job for 30 years,” former Selectman Laurie Pratt said.

Selectman Wayne A. DuBois said the board’s intent on broaching the change was akin to recently vetting very-skilled candidates for the treasurer position that was filled by Colleen Stewart.

“We don’t have that with an elected person,” DuBois said.

Selectman Thomas Skolfield said the board wouldn’t change the pay rate for the hourly position.

“This job is much more complicated than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and I didn’t realize it until this past year, how complicated it is,” he said.

“And for someone stepping off the street and thinking they can be up to speed in a week or two, or a month, or even six months or a year, it’s impossible,” Skolfield said. “This position requires a great deal of information, and we need to have someone who can do it from virtually day one.” 

He said he believes the change “is a step in the right direction in order to keep us as a small town and a small government, but yet to be effective at it.”

Others disagreed. Eventually, the change was OK’d by a tally of 29-15.

Voters also approved, by a vote of 25-12, increasing Road Commissioner Kelly Hutchinson’s workweek from 30 to 40 hours. DuBois said Hutchinson also does maintenance work on town equipment. By doing it in-house, DuBois said Hutchinson is saving the town hundreds of dollars.

“We need to allow him the hours to do it to save the town money,” DuBois said.

Voters also gave firefighters a raise from $10 an hour for call pay to $15 an hour, after fire Chief Wallis Tyler lobbied for the change.

In municipal elections Friday, Michael Pratt won a three-year term as selectman and Cochran was re-elected. For the Planning Board, former Selectman Nancy Stowell was elected to a five-year term, while Gordeen Skolfield won a two-year term.

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