Wed, Apr 4, 2012 12:16 PM
Haff petition stalled at gate
By Stephen Seitz
KILLINGTON - A petition brought by Killington Selectman Jim Haff to
have the town's voters set the town manager's salary each year
through a special town meeting is unlikely to go forward.
Town manager Seth Webb told the board that in the opinions of town
attorney Mark Sperry and Vermont League of Cities and Towns senior
staff attorney Jim Barlow, Haff's petition did not meet statutory
The petition sought a special town meeting this year to set Webb's
salary, and for a special meeting each succeeding January for that
"While the voters are authorized … to fix the compensation of town
officers and town employees, they are only authorized to do so at
an annual town meeting," Barlow wrote in an April 2 letter to Webb.
"The voters do not have the authority, as this petition would
suggest, to petition to have special town meetings on an annual
The board of selectmen adjourned without taking an actual vote on
Haff's petition. Chairman Chris Bianchi said a formal vote would be
taken at the regular meeting on April 10.
Much of the discussion, however, centered around a comment from
Selectman Bernard Rome to the Mountain Times, to the effect that
the Haff petition was "illegal."
"That sounds like I was engaged in some sort of illegal activity,"
Haff said, "not whether this was an invalid petition."
"I can see how it would be taken that way," Bianchi said.
Rome wanted to know what word choice would be acceptable.
"Are you saying I shouldn't talk to newspapers, or are you just
objecting to the use of the word?" he asked.
"I just think the word 'illegal' should be taken off," Haff
Resident Vito Resenas wanted to know how the town could set the
town manager's salary at the annual town meeting when Killington
uses the Australian ballot now.
Bianchi said it was his belief that voters wanting to set salaries
of town employees would need a petition article for that purpose,
but it would have to detail the salaries of all town
"The Secretary of State has plenty of material on that," he said.
"The board will research this further."
The board did move forward with a special town meeting to ask
voters whether they should keep the town manager form of
government. The meeting is in response to a petition filed by
resident Melvin Neisner.
The meeting had originally been scheduled for May 8, but the new
date for the vote is Monday, May 7.
"The town is talking about paying too much for the town manager,"
Haff said. "Proctor has a town administrator. I think there should
be more discussion about whether we should have a town manager or a
An informational meeting on the special vote has yet to be