Meeting, supper draw fewer voters

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HARTFORD – The majority of the 50 or so voters at Thursday night’s annual town meeting decided to have the term for town clerk extended from one to three years and to sign an agreement with other towns to buy materials in bulk.

The first weeknight annual meeting, which was preceded by a potluck supper to entice more attendees, brought only about half the number of residents as attended last year’s Saturday meeting. By 10 p.m., there were just 27 voters remaining at the 3-hour session.

Before the meeting began, Arleen Nason said it remained to be seen whether this new arrangement would produce a higher turnout.

In discussion about the term for town clerk, Dan Maddox asked why the change was recommended and Selectman Lee Holman said it was for consistency in the office.

Rick Downing asked what happened if the clerk didn’t work out and voters wanted to remove the officer before the end of the three years.

“There is always the option of a petition,” Holman said.

“An administrative ordinance is in the works, and consequences of any problem would be outlined” in it, Maddox explained.

The article was approved.

Downing also asked why selectmen thought it necessary to change the way road committee members are chosen.

“People who were elected last year never even showed up to be sworn in,” Holman answered.

“We are hoping to get people who really want to be involved,” board Chairman David Bowen said.

Road Committee member Bob Calawa wanted to amend the amount for summer roads from $138,680 to $120,000, but the move was defeated.

It was clear residents wanted to save the road budget and see improvements.

Holman said, “Some of our pot holes are so big they actually have names. We need to get the roads done.”

Voters agreed to join the Nezinscot Valley Purchasing Authority, which will allow Hartford, Buckfield and Summer to buy materials in bulk and barter use of equipment to save money.

The sum of $5,800 was approved for the Hartford Youth Sports program with the stipulation that all invoices go through the town office and be approved by selectmen, and the mowing go out to bid.”

Voters were asked to approve a budget of approximately $1,202,951, which is $123,038 more than last year. The approximate tax rate will be $14.40 per thousand dollars of assessed property value, which is $1.70 more than last year. The actual rate is set in October.

The municipal appropriation for this year is $623,101, which is $55,513 more than in 2005. The school costs are up 18.7 percent.

Besides voting no for a lesser amount for summer roads, residents also said no to giving $150 to Northeast Combat, $500 to the Rape Education And Crisis Hotline, $963 for the American Red Cross and $500 for United Cerebral Palsy.

They voted to give $66,113 ($65,512 requested) for solid waste and curbside pickup; $2,700 ($2,350 requested) for animal control; $20,540 ($18,900 requested) for public safety; and $200 for SeniorsPlus.

The meeting was moderated by Terry Hayes.

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