Becky Hapgood appointed to succeed Heath as China town manager

New town manager Becky Hapgood. (Photo by Roland D. Hallee)

by Mary Grow

At a short June 8 meeting, China selectmen approved public notices of two informational hearings that will precede the July 14 written-ballot town business meeting, and appointed Rebecca “Becky” Hapgood to succeed Dennis Heath as town manager and to fill Heath’s other positions.

[See also: Becky Hapgood honored for 25 years service to China]

The hearings will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 14, in the cafeteria at Erskine Academy, on Windsor Road (Route 32 South), in South China, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, in the town office meeting room on Lakeview Drive. Heath and selectmen will explain the warrant articles, which mostly ask voters to approve the recommended 2020-21 budget, and answer questions.

Heath said no more than 50 people will be allowed at each meeting, and they will be expected to practice social distancing. The meetings will also be available as zoom webinars in which people can participate on line and will be broadcast on the town office livestream system.

The June 8 selectmen’s meeting was an example of combining personal presence with distance participation and viewing. Heath and four of the five selectmen, all masked, sat on either side of a long table, separated by plexiglass screens down the middle. A fifth selectman joined via Zoom; and the meeting was live-streamed. Hapgood, also masked, participated from the audience.

Hapgood will become town manager on July 19, when Heath’s resignation is effective. The manager and his wife plan to return to Oklahoma to be near Heath’s mother.

Hapgood also becomes China’s treasurer and tax collector, beginning July 1 with the new fiscal year. The other positions to which she succeeds are ex officio member of all boards and committees; road commissioner; overseer of the poor; Civil Emergency Preparedness director; and public access officer. (State law requires each municipality to designate a public access officer to respond to requests for public records.)

In other business June 8:

  • Selectmen unanimously approved continuing with Purdy Powers & Company, of Portland, as China’s auditors. Heath said company employees planned to begin work in July.
  • Heath reviewed revenues and expenditures for the first 11 months of the 2019-20 fiscal years and concluded China is in good shape. Revenues have not fallen dangerously, and expenditures are where they should be with the fiscal year almost over. Property tax payments are on the same level as this time last year, the manager said, and a dramatic April decline in vehicle excise taxes was reversed in May.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 22.


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