Tuesday, May 21, 2013
By Paul Koenig
PITTSTON — Selectman Tim Marks resigned Thursday, making good on an earlier indication that he would step down in response to community outrage about the Board of Selectmen’s recent decision to fire longtime Town Clerk Ann Chadwick.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
Marks, who is also a state legislator, is the second board member to depart this week. Voters ousted Chairwoman Wanda Burns-Macomber in Monday’s scheduled municipal election.
The third selectman, Ted Sparrow Jr., hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment, so it’s unknown whether he will resign before an April 24 recall election that hundreds of upset residents have forced through a citizen petition.
Sparrow was chosen unanimously as the new chairman at the board meeting Wednesday night.
Town officials hope to be able to fill the vacancy resulting from Marks’ resignation during the recall election. They’re consulting with the Maine Municipal Association to see whether it’s possible to hold both votes at the same time, according to Rose Webster, treasurer, tax collector and interim town clerk.
Marks said he regrets resigning from his municipal post, but his selectman duties were interfering with his work as a state representative.
“It’s something I had wanted to do for a long time, and regretfully, I don’t have time for both,” he said.
Marks said he wanted to save the town the time and expense of holding a recall election for his seat. Earlier this month, after hundreds of residents signed a petition calling for selectmen to be recalled, Marks said he was “not married to the job, and it’s not much fun right now.”
The selectmen decided to not reappoint Chadwick, 75, when she refused to resign at a meeting March 6. She had held the job for more than 20 years.
A memo from the three-member board stated that Chadwick’s performance hadn’t improved after two evaluations last year. The board didn’t think Chadwick merited reappointment to her job because of “errors, mistakes and continued sub-par performance,” according to the memo. Clerks perform many tasks, including managing elections, issuing marriage licenses and advertising public meetings.
Marks has said the decision to fire Chadwick “was a very well thought-out decision that happened over a period of time.” He said Chadwick’s job performance was subpar for more than a year, and she did not make improvements when given the chance.
Chadwick has said she’s still capable of doing the work, despite what the selectmen claim.
Fallout from the board’s decision was immediate. Residents submitted petitions within a week with triple the signatures needed to trigger a recall election for the selectmen.
Then residents voted to remove the equivalent of Chadwick’s salary — $31,000 — from next year’s budget at the March 16 Town Meeting. They also cut the funding for that position’s retirement match and rejected the $9,000 request to fund legal services.
Newly elected Selectwoman Jane Hubert said a special town meeting probably will be held in the coming months to address unresolved issues from the March 16 meeting, including whether to provide funding for a new town clerk and legal services.
She also said the meeting probably will revisit objections by many residents to the town lowering the discount given for taxes paid before the payment deadline from 1.5 percent to 1 percent.
Marks said he doesn’t understand why the residents decided to cut funding from the town’s budget next year, considering the threat of reduced funding to municipalities from the state.
“They’re making it more difficult for themselves,” he said. “They need to appropriate that money, because who knows what the state is going to give them?”