CLARKSBURG -- A deliberation made at a Selectmen's meeting this July violated the Open Meeting Law, the state Attorney General's Office ruled recently.
Clarksburg Selectmen Chair Carl McKinney and Town Administrator Thomas Webb, then both members of the town's Board of Assessors, broke the statute when they appointed Ross Vivori assistant assessor during a Selectmen's meeting on July 15, the AG ruled.
At that time, the two constituted a Board of Assessors quorum and acted as that body, but no posting advertising a Board of Assessors meeting preceded, the office stated in a letter addressed to McKinney.
The AG's letter, dated Oct. 16, orders "immediate future compliance" with the law and the creation and approval of Board of Assessors minutes for the July date in question.
"The Board [of Assessors] may review and adopt a copy of the minutes already taken by the Select Board, as the meeting was functionally a joint meeting of the two bodies," the letter reads.
McKinney said he "emphatically" disagreed with the ruling in an interview Saturday.
"The Board of Assessors is not the appointing authority for assessors," the Board of Selectmen is, McKinney said. "That's the key and I think the AG is missing that key. It's silly and I think the AG is wrong.
"Am I not supposed to talk to the town administrator in administrating the affairs of this town?"
"The deliberation occurred after the Selectmen indicated to those present that no business would be conducted after the discussion of the applications for a different town officer position," it also notes.
Debora LaFave, a former town selectwoman, filed the complaint.
"I'm glad [the AG] agreed that what happened was a violation of the Open Meeting Law, and particularly glad [the office] used the word ‘transparent' in the letter," LaFave said. "The people need an opportunity to know what's being done."
The Selectmen subsequently rescinded its offer to Vivori and accepted applications for the position of assistant assessor.
Vivori and two others, Lisa Pierce and Alan Reutlinger, were subsequently appointed as town assessors. Webb and McKinney have both stepped down as assessors.
The AG's office, in its letter, calls these steps "the appropriate remedial action."
The determination goes on to say "we encourage both [boards] to be mindful that the concentration of multiple roles in a few persons may cause conflicts with the Open Meeting Law, even where the officers act in good faith."