Board approves extra pay for Colburn

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

HARRISON — Selectmen agreed at their Oct. 5 meeting to pay Interim Town Clerk Judy Colburn $600 a week in extra compensation for taking over the extra duties of town manager in addition to her duties at town clerk.

Selectmen Chairman Bill Winslow initially suggested $800 more per week, based on his understanding that former Town Manager Brad Plante was being paid around $1,200 a week.

The board amended the amount after Town Bookkeeper April Frank pointed out that Plante, who left the post on Sept. 17, was being paid $1,093 a week. Winslow said Colburn deserved to be compensated generously because “she’s actually putting her clerk’s job on the line by taking this job,” reasoning that if she erred in a big way she might end up losing both jobs.

Meanwhile, in her manager’s report, Colburn started out by saying, “Wearing this manager’s hat was never on my bucket list.” But she quickly added, “I’m honored and humbled by this challenge and with the help of all our very capable and professional town employees we will get the job done.”

The board has culled some of the 46 applications it has received for the town manager’s job, to be filled on either a part time or full time basis. It met Tuesday in closed session to consider applicants, and they will meet again privately on Oct. 12 and 26.

Code Enforcement Officer John Wentworth supported giving Colburn generous extra pay because things could get “a little bit nasty” with all of the responsibilities she will have. “I think it’s going to take a lot of her time, and if (the hiring process) goes on a long time it’s going to be much more difficult to balance” the responsibilities of both town clerk and town manager, he said.

Selectman Kathy Laplante said provisions for extra pay should also be made for other town office employees such as Frank, who will be handling general assistance duties. Winslow said there will be extra funding to do that and that Colburn would make those decisions.

The board heard from new SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts, who attended the Oct. 5 meeting to introduce himself. With a $2.6 million reduction in state funding last year to SAD 17 and another $2 million in cuts expected this year, Colpitts said “It’s going to take all of our communities working together” to get through the financial crisis. “I’m optimistic,” he said, adding that he will be spending a lot of time in the coming months meeting with parents, students and municipal leaders in the district towns.

In other action, the board:

• Accepted a $300 donation from the Harrison Youth Boosters for the recreation department’s Halloween party.
• Approved a liquor license renewal for the Caswell House Restaurant.
• Approved a mutual aid agreement between Harrison and the towns that are part of the Western Maine Firefighters’ Association, including Denmark, Oxford, Norway, South Paris, Hebron, Bridgton, Naples and Casco.
• Appointed resident Matthew Frank to the ecomaine Board of Directors, with resident Claudia Hodgdon serving as alternate.
• Agreed to renew their application with the Maine Municipal Association for Workers Compensation insurance for the coming year. The town recently received a dividend check from the MMA for $1,205.
• Appointed Richard Jennings and Jamie Dayton to the Conservation Commission.
• Agreed to hire Helen Edmunds of the law firm of Pierce-Atwood to replace James Katzifracus as legal counsel to work on a settlement of the Buteau shoreline violation case.

Colburn reported that paving work on Dingley Hill is nearly complete, involving the section of Maple Ridge Road from the Jane Gray farm to Haskell Hill that was rebuilt five years ago. She said the second coat of paving should lead to fewer issues with ditching and drainage, as well as fewer potholes.

Colburn also reported that Emergency Management Director Ray Laplante is doing monthly safety reports for the Department of Labor and he had reminded her that the carpet in the fire station’s community room needs replacing, as the seams are coming apart. She had contractors come inspect the carpet, and will be providing estimates.

Colburn told the board the town can expect its residents needing heating assistance to have long wait times from the PROP program, because its funding has been cut substantially.

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