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Conway voters nix clerical help

CONWAY — For months, the Selectboard has been poised to revamp the administrative office with a full-time town administrator boosted by a part-time clerical aide.

In March, the Selectboard hired Amanda Majewski-Winn as town administrator.

And this week, it put a $9,360 request for a part-time 12-hours-per-week aide before the voters. But in a voice vote at town meeting, residents nixed the idea.

The most vocal opponent was David Chichester.

“I was looking for ways to reduce the budget,” Chichester said. “It seemed like this item was something we could get along without. I felt it wasn’t absolutely necessary.”

Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke declined comment.

The hiring of Majewski-Winn was a fresh start for the small town.

The administrative office has undergone many changes and disruptions since the townspeople supported upgrading the administrative position to a 40-hours-a-week town administrator just one year ago. Before last May’s vote, the town was managed by Tom Spiro, a 30-hours-a-week administrative aide. Spiro’s seven-year tenure ended abruptly when the Selectboard hired Edward MacDonald of North Adams as the town’s first town administrator. Just before beginning the job, MacDonald laid off Spiro, citing an overlap of duties. On Jan. 7, MacDonald resigned unexpectedly and two months later, he filed an Open Meeting law complaint with the state against his former bosses.

Throughout the search for MacDonald’s replacement, the Selectboard kept open the idea of hiring part-time clerical help once a full-time town administrator was chosen.

While crafting the final $4.7 million budget for next year, the Finance Committee and Selectboard debated the hours and salary of an assistant and had settled on $9,360 for 12 hours a week.

The proposed job would have helped take meeting minutes, update the town website and file paperwork.

The proposal was a hard sell for the Finance Committee.

According to Finance Committee Chairman Jim Bosman, the committee believed “there wasn’t good justification for added clerical support” on top of the full-time town administrator.

“The Finance Committee was questioning the number of hours throughout the budget process,” said Bosman. “In the end, we acquiesced to the Selectboard request.”

Bosman was pleased with the townspeople’s decision this week to axe the request.

He expects some of the clerical work will be picked up by Majewski-Winn unless the town can find a volunteer.

“I was happy to see the townspeople vote no,” Bosman said.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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