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Acting Town Manager suggests some goals for Selectboard

Stearns recommends collecting water, sewer bills

PUTNEY—Interim Town Manager Chip Stearns urged the Selectboard to set some goals, including pulling the plug on water and sewer scofflaws.

During the Aug. 30 regular Selectboard meeting, Stearns reviewed some of what he considers the most pressing items the town is facing.

Besides hiring a new administrative assistant, Stearns prodded the Selectboard to decide what they want to do about the town manager position.

He reminded them his contract ends one week after Town Meeting, and asked them if they wanted to immediately begin the search for his replacement. He gave them some options, including contracting with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns for their recruitment services.

Stearns is interim town manager on a contract basis through the New England Municipal Resource Center. He replaces Cynthia Stoddard, who resigned at the end of July.

The water and sewer bills also need attention, Stearns said, and pointed out some accounts are over two years in arrears. The bills outstanding total $20,924.85, and collection has “never been enforced,” Stearns noted.

According to statute, the town can pursue collections mechanisms, including tax sales on properties with bills outstanding.

Stearns acknowledged those are his ideas and the Board may decide otherwise, but these topics are “attainable, achievable, and meaningful to accomplish,” he said.

Selectboard Clerk Josh Laughlin asked Administrative Assistant Laura Barcomb to make suggestions for Selectboard goals — at least while she’s still working for the town. During the Aug. 30 meeting, Barcomb announced her resignation. Her last day is Sept. 12.

Selectboard Chair Scott Henry noted the Board is working on other big projects, including installing new sidewalks downtown, working with the Putney Fire Department on recruitment and retention, and what to do about recycling now that the Windham Solid Waste Management District materials recovery facility is closed.

“Those are already underway,” Stearns said.

Stearns said he will help the Board achieve the list of goals, but urged them to complete them in the next six months so he can “leave you in a better position than I found you.”

“I think we’re all hoping for that,” said Laughlin.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #425 (Wednesday, September 13, 2017). This story appeared on page C3.

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