Minot residents to decide Fire Department requests

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MINOT — Townspeople will gather at the Minot Consolidated School this Saturday, March 3, at 9 a.m., for the annual town meeting.

In addition to setting the town’s budget, voters this year will decide whether to build an addition to Minot’s Central Fire Station and whether to replace Engine 1, a 30-year-old truck.

The 2,640-square-foot addition would about double the Central Fire Station’s size, at an estimated total cost of about $432,000.

Officials estimate it would cost about $150,000 to replace Engine 1.

The annual costs, financed over 10 years, are projected to be $50,495 and $17,535, respectively.

The Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee split in their recommendations on funding for these two major capital improvement projects.

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Selectmen, not wanting to see any budget increase, struggled with the Fire Department’s requests, in the end allowing that it is up to the town’s people to decide if this is the right time to move forward with these expenditures.

Board Chairman Dean Campbell, who also serves as the town’s fire chief, abstained from discussions and votes on Fire Department matters, as did Selectman Steve French, the department’s former fire chief.

The Budget Committee began its deliberations with an eye to maintaining a zero increase in this year’s budget.

It is recommending against the Fire Department projects.

Both boards are recommending against a request from the town Conservation Commission Committee for $7,300 to resurface the infields of two ball fields with the suggestion that if the ball fields are to be resurfaced, the money to do so should come from the balance being carried in the Recreation Department account.

The Budget Committee is also against the $15,000 the Highway Department is seeking to replace its GMC pickup truck.

Town Administrator Arlan Saunders is working on a plan to reduce the amount needed to purchase the replacement that would have to be raised from taxes.

Town departments are requesting a total of $1,362,792, up slightly from the $1,306,682 townspeople approved a year ago.

If voters follow selectmen’s recommendations, they will approve a $1,345,491 budget; if the Budget Committee’s recommendations, the amount approved drops to $1,282,463.

“I don’t know how much longer we can keep the budget down. There’s no room for error, and what’s going on with the price for fuel is scary,” Saunders said.

Municipal elections will be held on Friday, March 2, with polls open from 4 to 8 p.m.

Voters will elect two selectmen, both for three-year terms, and two representatives to the RSU 16 School Committee, also for three-year terms.

Selectmen Dan Callahan and Dean Campbell are running unopposed for new terms.

The names of current School Committee members Tina Love and Yvette Murray also appear unchallenged on ballots; however, resident Eleanor Biron has recently announced that she is running as a write-in candidate for Murray’s seat.

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