Town Meeting

No more auditors in Troy

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by Matthew Wilson

TROY — A series of paper ballots had Troy residents repeatedly lining up to vote on Tuesday morning at Town Meeting.  Two select board seats saw a bit of competition and an article to eliminate the town’s auditor positions provoked a lot of discussion.  When it was time to look over appropriations, there were plenty of questions for the select board about where the people’s money was going.

Robert Langlands and Anne Quirion were challenged for their spots on the select board.  Travis Coty ran against Mr. Langlands and Angus Gluck ran against Ms. Quirion, but the sitting members retained their seats by a large margin.

Mr. Coty, who owns 802 Tacos on Main Street said that he ran because he’d like to help make the town beautiful.  Mr. Langlands was elected with 43 votes while Mr. Coty netted 15.  Ms. Quirion kept her seat with 52 votes to Mr. Gluck’s 3.

The community then discussed and voted on eliminating the auditors’ positions.  Citizens were concerned that there would be nobody internally to review accounts at the town office.  Ms. Quirion explained being an auditor is mostly a formality, as it is volunteer positions and the holders never come to the town office.  Auditing is done by a professional firm in Troy.  When the votes were tallied, 23 voted to keep the positions and 32 voted to do away with auditors.

Looking at the general expenditures, a few figures were questioned, but select board members were quick to explain any gaps.

One particular line in the expenses labeled “Dogs” raised a few eyebrows.  The expenditure turned out to be the cost of corralling a few rogue canines.  Salaries increased as well.  “That’s just to keep our wages competitive,” Mr. Langlands said.  The $251,009 in general expenditures passed, as did the $629,034 highway fund.

The meeting then moved on to the appropriations that the town wished to make.  Moderator Bobby Starr suggested that appropriations be placed into one measure with the exception of any item that might see discussion.  Some objections were raised, so voters decided to look at each item separately.  Even so, only a handful saw any major discussion, while most items drew requests for clarification about the group the appropriation went to or why an amount was higher than asked for last year.

When it came time to discuss the $19,104 appropriation for the Orleans County Sheriff Department, Mr. Coty asked that the meeting consider voting down the funding.

“It’s one of our biggest appropriations, and something that a lot of voters do not know is Vermont has a very interesting caveat in the state law,” Mr. Coty.  “Five percent of these contracts can go into the pocket of the elected official.  I vote that we oppose any of these contracts because our elected officials should not be getting a commission out of our tax dollars.  On top of that, our elected sheriff showed up at my shop and I asked her how are things going, do we have less crime, is this having an impact?  She said no, so I think we can take care of ourselves.”

When Mr. Starr asked if there was a second the crowd murmured lightly but no one came forward and no hand was raised, so the motion died.

“You really need to think hard about this.  If not for Sheriff Harlow’s department, who will take care of it?” select board member Gaston Bathalon asked.

“I asked Sheriff Harlow and she said the State Police would,” Mr. Coty replied.

“I don’t usually get involved in these discussions, but If you watch the Channel 3 news, they fired 20 or 30 cops in Burlington,” Mr. Starr said.  A loud laugh came from the crowd along with a few short giggles.  “I think it was a joke, but it’s chaos there now,” Mr. Starr continued.

Someone moved to end the discussion and the appropriation was passed by a large majority.

When the issue of ambulance services came up, several residents shared the opinion that the decision to switch from Missisquoi Valley Ambulance Service to Newport Ambulance Service should have been made by the people.  Mr. Langlands said that because the contract was for coverage shared between Troy, Jay, Westfield, and Lowell, it made sense for the select boards to work together on the issue.  He explained the decision was made when the anticipated increase in costs made Newport Ambulance Service’s rates comparable to Missisquoi.  The community passed the $74,915.02 appropriation unanimously.

A motion came forward to combine the remaining appropriations with the exception of $500 to the American Red Cross.  Mr. Coty asked that the town keep the money local by donating it to the library or the school, arguing that a national charity that can pay its chief executive officer a salary of over $700,000 doesn’t need Troy’s small contribution.  The appropriation passed, though there were some who agreed with Mr. Coty and added their nays when the question was called.  The last few items were quickly passed and the meeting adjourned.

 

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