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By Miranda Orso,
Duxbury voters approved a $787,679.59 town budget for 2014 during a well-attended town meeting at Crossett Brook Middle School Tuesday.
Mark Morse was re-elected as moderator and led the town through both serious and lighthearted decisions.
Discussion on 15 articles carried well into the day, with most of the debate centered on how to lower budget costs.
The most contentious items at the meeting were three articles regarding use of money from the town's capital reserve fund. One of those articles asked voters to authorize using up to $20,000 in funds as a match for potential grants. Another $45,000 was to be used to replace 16 culverts under paved roads in the town. The third article asked voters to consider spending up to $193,395 on a new 2014 Volvo excavator.
Following lengthy discussion, voters chose to take no action on the three articles pending the completion of an audit of the town's financial records. Once the audit is complete, the select board will schedule a special meeting to vote on the articles.
The audit involves an outstanding $228,000 balance on a line of credit the town has with Merchants Bank, among other things. Select board chair Dick Charland said the town had hoped to have audit results in time for Town Meeting, but they're still waiting on the results.
Duxbury residents also set compensation for town officials and by a vote of 76-65 passed a motion from the floor to return the town clerk's position to four days a week and $36,000 per year. The select board had proposed reducing that position to three days a week and $24,485 per year. Voters passed an amendment allowing the select board to investigate changing the town's budget year from a calendar year to a fiscal year.
The tax warrant date was set as October 18, with an 8 percent penalty as called for by state law, along with a 1 percent monthly interest charge on delinquent taxes.
Election of officers
One contested race emerged for a one-year seat on the Duxbury Select Board.
Board member Dawn Poitras did not seek re-election to her one-year seat due to work obligations. Nominations for her seat went around the room, with six residents declining nomination before Bob Scott and Amy Scharf agreed to have their names considered. Scott said he'd be happy to serve his community but only for one year "and nothing else," drawing chuckles from the crowd.
Scharf said her love for Duxbury, her previous work and civic experience, along with her ability to connect with others would help her serve effectively on the select board. Following an Australian ballot vote, Scharf came out on top with 68 votes.
Voters re-elected Mo Lavanway to a three-year seat on the board. They also re-elected Marty Wells to a one-year term.
The town also elected Kym Andrews as treasurer and filled 12 other vacancies. Among them was dog catcher Zeb Towne, who was nominated almost unanimously for re-election, despite a no vote from his wife that caused laughter to erupt in the room.
"She's mad about the late nights I have to go out on those calls," Towne said.
"It's because you're out there rounding up them bitches," Morse joked, causing a loud wave of laughter across the room.