Marion re-examines Town Clerk salary at Town Meeting

May 14, 2019

MARION — At the first night of its Annual Town Meeting on May 13 Marion voters stripped the compensation from the Town Clerk position in light of recent criminal charges brought against the current Town Clerk, Ray Pickles, by the state.

Charles St. Pier, moved to amend Pickles’ $19,493 Town Clerk compensation and to transfer those funds to the Selectmen for them to use at their discretion.

Pickles served as Director of the Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District until January 2018, when he was fired due to financial irregularities in the district’s finances. The waste disposal district subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against Pickles and on March 18 the State Attorney General’s Office and Office of the Inspector General indicted Pickles for allegedly embezzling more than $675,000. 

Pickles pled “not guilty” in an April 12 arraignment and though the Selectmen have requested he resign, has not responded to their request. Marion previously defeated a bylaw that would allow the town to remove elected officials from office, leaving the town with no option to remove Pickles from office until 2020, when his term expires. 

St. Pier believes that to continue to compensate Pickles would be “unfair to taxpayers in town,” and added that “If he is convicted the Selectmen [should] have the opportunity to appoint someone as a temporary Town Clerk. We shouldn’t pay anyone and add insult to injury.”

Joseph Zora believed the town should handle it differently, and have an audit done on the job if Pickles, who is rarely in the Town House, is not performing it correctly.

“Let him do his job and if he’s not doing it he’s going to have problems. When we give that up [to the Selectmen] we minimize who we are,” Zora said. 

Selectman John Waterman explained that the change “gives us an option to hire a new town clerk. We are required by law to have a new Town Clerk, so we need funds to do that. We currently zeroed out the budget in that area.”

The act passed as amended. Town Meeting will continue May 14 at 6:45 p.m. in the Sippican School Auditorium with the articles after article 27.