By Lisa Loomis
The budget proposed by the Duxbury Select Board provides wage increases to all employees except the town clerk whose wages the board would reduce from $36,000 to $24,800.
Last year the select board proposed a similar reduction in the town clerk's wages, reducing the clerk's salary from $36,000 to $24,485. But voters restored those wages to $36,000 by a floor vote at Town Meeting.
Duxbury is transitioning from a calendar year budget to a July 1 to June 30 budget so this year, voters are approving a 2015 six-month budget, plus a 2015-2016 July to June budget.
While the board is proposing that the town clerk's wages be reduced in both budgets, the town treasurer's wage is proposed to increase from $16,398 to $16,728. The assistant town clerk sees an increase in the proposed budget from $9,400 to $9,588.
The proposed budget also includes increases for road crew members with the highest paid member seeing an increase from $45,548 to $47,359. The next highest paid member would see his wages go from $39,550 to $41,117. The third full-time member of the crew would see an increase from $34,728 to $37,871.
In other areas of the budget, the board is proposing that the money spent on sand be increased from $28,000 to $29,000. Last year the town budgeted $28,000 but actually spent $53,921. The total highway budget will increase from $607,065 to $684,052.
The clerk of the select board, who was paid $375 in 2014 (with $750 budgeted), is slated to receive $1,000 next year. The town's legal expenses, budgeted at $8,000 last year and spent at $18,224, are proposed at $8,000 next year. Among the town's other legal issues last year was a legal issue involving the town clerk.
Last year the select board voted in August to take the town clerk, Ken Scott, to small claims court over his contribution to his health care. The town claims Scott owes $3,000 to the town because Scott pays 5 percent of his health care premium while town employees pay 15 percent. The town's personnel policy explicitly states that employees who are elected are exempt from the town's personnel policy (which lays out employee contribution to health care premiums).
Yet last spring the select board raised the issue and over the course of the spring and summer has sent letters to Scott and his attorney about the issue. Emails to select board members about whether the small claims suit had been filed or heard were not answered. Minutes from the January 19, 2015, select board meeting again raise the issue of the "insurance discrepancy" and note that the board voted to turn the matter over to Vermont State Police. Vermont State Police Middlesex barracks has no record of a complaint from the town of Duxbury to date.
Legal issues aside, the proposed budget for the first six months of 2015 is $362,084, and the July 2015 to June 2016 budget is $959,825. The total town budget – actual – for 2014 was $1,221,566. The budgeted amount for 2014 was $787,679. The actual for 2014 reflects the addition of FEMA payments.