DERBY – Close to 100 people packed into the Derby Town Office Monday evening for the select board’s regular meeting. Most were there to hear about and discuss the pending resignation of town clerk and treasurer Nicole Daigle.
During the meeting, Daigle announced that Sept. 30 will be her last day.
Daigle told the select board during an executive session several weeks ago that she had found a new job.
Daigle said she did not want to leave the town in a bind so she hired and was training Faye Morin so that come Town Meeting Day a candidate would be ready to take over Daigle's job.
Assistant Clerk Nancy Gosselin is not a Derby resident and can't serve as Derby Town Clerk. Assistant clerk and delinquent tax collector MaryAnn Tetreault said Monday she does not want the position.
An audit of the town clerk’s office will occur in mid-September before Daigle leaves.
Daigle could have left at any time, but said she deiced to stay on to help the transition go smoothly. When controversy erupted within the office following her announcement, Daigle was going to leave quickly but a select board member purportedly asked Daigle to stay a little longer, and she agreed.
But during the meeting she said she is ready to go. "I’m done. I’m happy to leave.”
Once Daigle officially leaves, the select board can either appoint someone until Town Meeting or it can hold a special election. The voters could also petition the town to hold an election, select board member Karen Jenne reminded the crowd. She also noted that a town clerk cannot pick his or her successor.
Someone in the audience said that the person Daigle has trained will have a huge advantage come election time, but Brian Smith, board chair, said town clerks are free to run their offices as they wish. Daigle added that, at election time, it is up to the voters.
Since last town meeting, the clerk’s office has been in a bit of turmoil and increasingly so as time went on with no one sure when Daigle was leaving or who would take her place.
Daigle served as the delinquent tax collector for a number of years, but last election she was defeated by Tetreault by a couple of votes. Tetreault promised to give half of her earnings as tax collector to Derby organizations.
Soon after the election, Tetreault’s hours were cut and she was required to turn in her key to the building. She went before the select board at a previous meeting to express her concerns and to say that she wants her hours back.
Daigle responded that Tetreault’s primary role in the office s recording. The position was full-time during the housing boom and then, with the slowdown, the work load decreased.
Nathan Pickard was in the audience Monday and questioned why with less work someone is being trained. Daigle said the training is for a different position.
Vicky Farrand-Lewis, also in the audience, said that no one was there to question Daigle’s service to the community or Faye Morin’s abilities. Lewis discussed the tension in the office and called Daigle’s cutting of Tetreault's hours retaliation. She said the problem was how it was all done.
Lewis went on to question the clerk’s budget and other aspects of Tetreualt’s position.
Daigle quickly said that what Lewis brought up was a personnel issue for executive session. “I will not be badgered in open session,” Daigle said.
Several people thanked Daigle for her 20 years of service to the town. Select board member Laura Dolgin praised her work. She said Daigle brought the town to a whole new level. She also thanked her for not leaving at a moment’s notice. Dolgin also pointed out Morin, who was in the audience, and asked her to tell the residents about herself.
Morin, a lifetime Derby resident, said she is a people person. She spoke enthusiastically about the town, including the new dog park, the recycling center, and Community Day. She also listed the accounting and banking experience she has, and all the different programs where she has worked.
Resident Bryan Davis thanked Daigle for her service and the comment generated wide applause.
Meanwhile Smith has invited Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos up to Derby to hold a meeting to discuss open government and transparency. The meeting is expected in about one month, Smith said.