Town Council approves Washington budget

Town clerk Laura Dodd announces retirement after 16 years

The Washington Town Council unanimously and swiftly approved the town’s 2019-2020 budget at its regular meeting Monday night. The budget for the town proper is $401,300, up $36,600 from last year; the water works budget is at $188,250, up $6,200; and wastewater is $378,500, an increase of $3,000.

The council discussed but took no action on a possible increase in the town’s fee schedule (for property- and zoning-related permits and applications). Town Attorney John Bennett, who has been researching fees in nearby counties and towns, noted that “if we look at a lot of other jurisdictions, [the town’s] fees are rather modest, compared to what can be charged.”

“The ARB [Architectural Review Board] application fee is $2,” noted Town Clerk Laura Dodd. “I would personally hesitate to raise the fee by that much . . . people perceive it as quite an ordeal as is.”

Said council member Patrick O’Connell: “They could be coming in to put up a section of fence, that would be about a $75 job.”

Bennett suggested the council consider a two-tier system, $25 for minor and $250 for major. He will draft a resolution for the July meeting for the council to vote on.

Dodd, who has served as town clerk for more than 16 years, is retiring, and the council discussed briefly ways the town might replace her. The town will advertise for two possible part-time positions, but council members are still working on job descriptions and titles to attract the right candidates. They will be advertising the position this month and interviewing from July 8 to Aug. 12. Dodd is scheduled to work through August.

During public comment, former council member Gary Aichele said it would be difficult to replace Dodd. “This is one of the [town council’s] most significant administrative changes . . . probably since they started having meetings off someone’s porch,” Aichele said. “The transition from someone like Laura — it’s very, very difficult capturing all that she has been doing and getting them tasked to appropriate people . . . I’m concerned that when you advertise it, that the caliber of people you are going to need to do these jobs understand that and apply, and that they aren’t frustrated when they find out what the jobs really are.”

The council also will have openings on the ARB and Planning Commission soon, as Selma Thomas and Allan Comp are moving out of town; Thomas served on the ARB, her husband on the planning commission.

“We have admired their insight, thoughts and service to the town and I’ll take this moment to publicly thank them for the time and energy they have given to the town, it has been invaluable,” said Mayor Fred Catlin.

For the commission and board posts, interested town residents can submit a letter of interest to the town clerk by Aug. 5.

Luke Christopher
About Luke Christopher 106 Articles
Luke is a "Best of D.C." photographer who has been published, in print, in The Washington Post, The Washington Times and Miami New Times. He started his photography career as a reporter for the University of Maryland's daily newspaper and served as the entertainment editor for "City Living " magazine. Website: lukechristopher.com

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