For the third year in a row, the Duxbury Select Board is proposing cutting the town clerk’s salary from approximately $36,000 to $25,000. In 2015 and 2014, voters at Town Meeting amended the proposed town budget from the floor and restored it to the full amount.
This year’s budget proposes the same thing, reducing the salary of the town clerk from $36,000 to $25,000. The budget also proposed cutting the salary of the assistant town clerk from $9,588 to $5,000. Duxbury’s Town Meeting warning includes an article asking voters to change how the town clerk (and other elected officials) pays for his benefits.
“Shall the voters of the Town of Duxbury require elected officials participating in any town benefit plan to provide the same percentage of financial contribution as town employees are required, as established by the select board.”
The current town clerk is Ken Scott who is coming up on his 16th year in office. When he was elected in 2001, he became eligible for town benefits. Duxbury’s personnel policy makes no mention of a protocol for elected officials paying for benefits. In 2002, Scott began making a voluntary 5 percent contribution for his benefits in solidarity with the road crew. In 2013, Scott upped that amount to 15 percent, which is what town employees pay.
This year’s town select board report includes a discussion of the board’s proposed budget for the town clerk and treasurer. In that report, board chair Amy Scharf explained the board’s reasoning for the proposed change in the town clerk fees, noting that the select board and the town’s budget committee “took a long look at these line items.”
She points out that the town clerk and town treasurer set their own hours and the select board sets the wages. In her report, Scharf notes that the board and budget committee felt there was a need for the town treasurer to work more than one day a week.
“We figured the treasurer pay line item on the idea of 20 hours needed a week on average at a rate of $25 per hour to bring us to a yearly pay of $26,000 with no health benefits,” she wrote.
“The same thinking took place when setting the pay recommendation for the town clerk... . We feel that if the town clerk’s office was open for 24 hours a week (as opposed to 32 hours that it is currently open), there would be more than enough time to handle the workload of the office. As we did with the treasurer position, we took the amount of hours times a comparable rate of pay to come up with the $25,000 pay scale,” she wrote, adding that the town clerk position comes with benefits.
Although Scharf’s report discusses working with the town’s budget committee, there are no minutes from the budget committee’s meeting available either online or at the town office. Neither are there agendas for the budget committee available in either place. Budget committee members include Todd Liberty, Jeff Larkin, Bonnie Morse, Jennifer Deen and Gary Winnie.
Members of the select board were called and emailed seeking comment about why the town clerk’s hours were being cut. Only Marty Wells returned a call and said he’d missed several budget meetings and couldn’t speak to why the changes were made.
Duxbury’s total proposed budget for 2016 is $928,137, down from last year’s $975,279. Revenues offset that number with proposed spending for this year coming in at $734,137 compared to $760,529 last year.