By John Hammer | The Charlotte News
Editor’s note: As The Charlotte News went to press, this was the latest information. See our website for the outcome of the re-evaluation meeting on April 7.
It was a standing-room-only event at the March 28 Selectboard meeting. The crowd waited an hour to get what they came for—the discussion of Town Clerk/Treasurer (TC/T) Mary Mead’s salary. The agenda was packed for the first hour with administrative issues, but Mead’s declaration of her intention to resign at the previous meeting on March 23 had had the town humming for a week.
Lane Morrison, Selectboard chairman, opened the discussion with an overview of Mead’s campaign to receive a salary increase. He explained that her first request came in January 2014, and the issue was taken up at the 2014 Town Meeting, at which no salary increase was supported. The discussions about salary increases, however, led to the development of a salary administration policy (SAP). The SAP was designed over a long period with the collaboration of a human resources pay expert, Frank Sadowsky. The SAP was devised to evaluate the elements of each job against 13 criteria to arrive at a pay rate. This program is widely used and known as the Palmer Method.
The SAP was instituted in January 2015 and was used in establishing the salaries for the 2015-16 budget, which passed unanimously at the 2015 Town Meeting. As 2015 progressed, the SAP was reviewed and modified. It was finalized at the Selectboard meeting of February 16, 2016. At that meeting, Mead “requested time on a Selectboard agenda for a discussion regarding pay rate calculation issues.” She and the Selectboard agreed to cover this issue at the regular March 14 meeting. In the interim, the Town Budget, including a line for the TC/T position, was passed at Town Meeting on March 1, 2016.
The issue was accordingly aired on March 14, during which a motion was made to raise the TC/T salary from her 2014-15 approved salary of $62,916 to $72,259.20. Spell and Spear voted yes, Tegatz and Morrison voted no, and the motion didn’t carry. Later that week, Mead notified the board of her resignation, to be effective May 6, 2016.
A meeting was held on March 23 at 4 p.m. to address how to handle the vacancies but not the pay implications of the resignation. The regular March 28 agenda included two items concerning the question: TC/T pay issues and pending vacancies of town clerk, town treasurer and delinquent tax collector. The first half hour was taken up by comments from the public. The question was raised as to whether the Selectboard could change a pay line in the budget when the whole had been passed by vote at Town Meeting. The answer was “yes” as long as the salary line was within the purview of the Selectboard. When asked if the Selectboard was unhappy with the work done by Ms. Mead, Chairman Morrison replied, “Mary’s work, we can all attest, is excellent, and we pay accordingly.” He went on to say that the HR consultant had said in reviewing the SAP, “It’s about the job. It’s not about the person.”
A number of audience members suggested that a change in salary after it had been reviewed using the SAP matrix and approved by the town at Town Meeting would be disrespectful of the process and call into question other employees’ salaries. Selectman Krasnow said that any review of the TC/T salary would “entail going back to the Palmer Study, adding up the metrics and coming up with a score.”
Selectman Spell brought up the fact that the process has included some personality conflicts, and “the process wasn’t fair based on the testimony that has come out in meetings over the last year…there has been no body that has been listening to (Mary’s) grievance.” Chairman Morrison and some members of the crowd openly disagreed with Spell.
The Selectboard then went into executive session with Ms. Mead for half an hour. Upon their return, Chairman Morrison announced that Ms. Mead had withdrawn her resignation and would submit a revised job description to reflect what she considers to be additional duties not currently included. The board would then undertake to re-evaluate her job with the Palmer survey. Mr. Sadowsky will sit in to ensure the evaluation is unbiased. The public meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. on April 7.
Town Charter unchanged
The next item on the agenda was consideration of changes to the town charter recently voted at Town Meeting. The charter governs the adoption of the annual budget and budget-related articles. Draft changes were drawn up by the town attorney to clarify how budget-related articles might be handled should they fail on the floor of the Town Meeting. It was decided that the changes were not needed because voters have the opportunity to re-raise the issue for vote through the petition process. The charter will stand as voted.
Mack Farm runoff solution
Marty Illick presented a program titled Ahead of the Storm, which was drawn up by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). It is intended to provide funding for the design and costing of certain water-related and runoff projects. The ANR is funding a project to perform a water quality study of the Mack farm on East Thompson’s Point Road. The Lewis Creek Association is spearheading the effort, and Illick says that all parties are in agreement with some slight changes. Funding, which might involve some town matching funds, will potentially come from the Better Back Roads Program (Vermont Agency of Transportation) or the ANR. The board voted to approve the preliminary design, which will lead to the costing phase of the project.
The early hour of the meeting saw four bicycling events approved.
A series of three Green Mountain Bicycle Club time trials, on May 5, June 6 and August 4, running along South Greenbush Road from just south of East Thompson’s Point Road to Route 7 and back. Participants are single riders, and the trials run from 6:30–8 p.m. More information can be found at thegmbc.com.
The Lund Ride for Children will return again this year on Sunday, June 5. The riders start in Burlington at 8:30 a.m. and proceed south through Charlotte on Greenbush Road and return up Mount Philo Road. The 30-mile route will turn east on Hinesburg Road; there is a rest stop at the Charlotte Senior Center. The 55-mile loop will turn around in Ferrisburg. About 75 riders are expected to follow the 30- or 55-mile loops. Signage will be posted several days in advance and road monitors will be present.
The third annual Cycle4CMT fundraiser will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on August 28. Cycle riders have a choice of three rides starting and finishing at the Old Lantern. Route courses are noted at: bit.ly/2383pwr. A fundraising event including food, music and silent auction will be held from noon to 3 p.m. with the general public invited. Between 150 and 200 are expected with half being riders.
The Kelly Brush Ride returns again this year on September 9. This is the 11th annual ride coming from Middlebury College with a water stop at the Boffa residence on Mt. Philo Road. The route, which might involve as many as 1000 riders, comes up Mt. Philo Road, then east on Hinesburg Road and north on Spear Street. The route reenters Charlotte following Lake, Ferry and Greenbush Roads, continuing south to Ferrisburg.
The Selectboard reappointed Peter Joslin and Gerald Bouchard to the Planning Commission to serve until April 2020. Frank Tenney and Andrew Swayze were reappointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Joanna Cummings was appointed to serve as 2016 Green-up Vermont coordinator.
In three other administrative matters the town’s mowing and land maintenance was awarded to Mow, Mow, Mow, Inc., an application was authorized for a state building permit to cover the new addition for the Senior Center, and an offer for employment was approved for Daryl Benoit to fill the vacant town planner position at a wage rate of $21.29 per hour.
The next regularly scheduled Selectboard meeting will be held on April 11.