New Sharon selectman to resign at next meeting

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Left to right is Moderator Richard Thompson with Town Clerk Susan Anneley, Selectperson Maynard Webster, Selectperson Forrest Bonney and Selectperson Lorna Nichols.
At the annual town meeting (left to right) is Moderator Richard Thompson with Town Clerk Susan Anneley, Selectman Maynard Webster, Selectman Forrest Bonney and Selectperson Lorna Nichols. Webster was not reelected at Saturday’s town meeting, with Bonney resigning as of March 18.

NEW SHARON – The Board of Selectmen has lost more than four decades of experience in less than a week, after another member indicated today they would be resigning from the board.

Selectman Forrest Bonney will be resigning from the board at the conclusion of the March 18 meeting, the selectman confirmed today. His resignation follows voters choosing not to reelect incumbent First Selectman Maynard Webster at Saturday’s town meeting. Challenger Travis Pond was elected with 127 votes to Webster’s 83 votes.

Webster had nearly 40 years on the board. Forrest had served one year following the premature departure of another selectman in 2012, before being reelected to a 3-year term in 2013.

That leaves two selectmen on the board: Selectman Lorna Nichols, who was elected in 2014, and Pond.

In a letter Bonney had previously sent to Nichols and Pond, he indicated that he felt it had been “shortsighted” for residents to unseat Webster, as he had been the board member that best understood town administration.

“Although I have three years of experience, there are still many aspects of the job that I am not well versed in,” Bonney wrote. “If he had been reelected for one more term, I’m sure that Lorna and I would have had adequate experience to continue in his absence.”

Bonney provided a list of items that selectmen would need to take over, following Webster’s departure. These include an on-call point of contact for general assistance requests and concealed weapon permit renewals.

He also suggested scheduling a special town meeting to fill his vacant seat. He noted that at that meeting, funding could be allocated for assessing services if that was the direction the board wanted to move in.

Bonney is referring to one cut approved by residents at Saturday’s meeting. It was proposed by Pond, who suggested lowering selectman pay from $7,000 annually to $5,000 annually and putting that $6,000 toward assessing services. Currently, the board members serve as assessors.

Pond said that his logic for the reduction to the selectman pay was to have the town seek assistance from a professional tax assessment service, causing an equivalent reduction in the town officer duties. At the town meeting, Pond recommended the addition of $10,000, the re-appropriated $6,000 plus another $4,000 out of surplus, to the Administrative Expenses line to go toward assessing services. However, Webster suggested that a special town meeting would be required to add those funds, as “assessing services” did not appear in that article, and no amendment was ever made.

In his letter, Bonney said that while he was happy to answer questions or assist the board in the transition, he stood “firm” in his decision.

“I have given it much thought,” Bonney said.

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