On March 1, 2023

Woodstock to decide on listers 

By Curt Peterson 

Woodstock voters will decide on a $7,681,341 budget on Town Meeting Day, March 7. Major items in the budget include $2,254,023 for highways, $1,402,577 for ambulance department expenses, $622,430 for the fire department and $446,103 for police.

One town budget item is $271,250, labeled “Select Board contingency.” This line item is intended for unpredictable emergencies or expenses that might occur.

Voters will also authorize the elimination of town listers under Article 3 and replace them with a professionally qualified assessor or assessors. The town currently has two listers — Kathy Avellino, whose term is up in 2024 and Tim McCarthy, whose term is up in 2025. A third seat is currently vacant.

Tom Yennerell, Woodstock’s interim town manager explained the reasoning behind eliminating the lister position in the annual town report. 

“It’s now common in many towns for no one to run for the elected office of lister,” Yennerell  wrote. “The job is complex and sometimes controversial. An increasingly common practice is to hire an assessor to fill vacant elected lister positions. Town officials (Selectboard and trustees) need town wide voter approval to appoint an assessor(s). Currently, Woodstock officials don’t have authority to appoint an assessor(s). Consequently, at Town Meeting, Woodstock voters will be asked to grant authority to the town officials to appoint an assessor(s) and thereby avoid the potential issue of a lister shortage. There is no financial impact if the assessor system is approved.”

Two Select Board seats, currently held by Keri Cole and Ray Bourgeois, are up for reelection as are Town Clerk Charles Degener and First Constable Kelly Linton’s positions. 

The Village will hold its annual meeting on March 12. Yennerell, who was formerly the town manager in Springfield, called the existence of the two entities “inefficient and cumbersome” in his report.

“The original reasons for creating the Village no longer exist because times have changed,” Yennerell wrote. “The dual system requires countless hours of additional administration to operate both municipal entities. This translates to additional tax dollars needed to do the administration. It would be prudent to investigate solutions to improve this situation.”

Most of the Village budget is consumed by the police department, which provides 24/7 coverage. 

Merging the town and Village has been discussed in the past, but proven controversial. The decision is not on either the town or Village warnings this year. 

Voters will also authorize the elimination of town listers and replace them with a professionally qualified assessor or assessors.

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