Minot voters spend on baseball field, nix paving road

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MINOT — Town meeting voters Saturday raised $1.53 million to run the town for the next year.

This amount almost met the Board of Selectmen’s goal of a flat budget. It failed, according to Selectman Eda Tripp, by about $14,000 once you discounted the $60,000 reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that had been rolled into last year’s budget.

That $14,000 could be attributed to action on the town meeting floor whereby voters overrode selectmen and Budget Committee recommendations that only $27,000 be allocated for the ball fields.

Recreation Committee member Lisa Cesare asked for, and received, $41,000 with the additional $14,000 to complete work on the Babe Ruth baseball field.

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That amount was still short of the $55,000 the Recreation Committee originally requested. It leaves funding for bleachers and score boards for another year.

The Hadfield Road project, which for $165,300 would have upgraded and paved Hadfield Road from Marston Hill Road to the Auburn town line, came within one vote of passing, despite selectmen and Budget Committee recommendations that it receive no money.

Hadfield Road residents Sandy and Don Dubuc argued that their year-old car had 10 years of wear on it, the road was so bad.

By a 34-33 margin, voters rejected funding the project but, acknowledging the closeness of the vote, agreed to a reconsideration.

During the reconsideration, Selectman Dean Campbell reminded townspeople that $165,000 would add a solid $1 to the town’s property tax rate and that was before any consideration was given to what the town would have to pay for schools this year.

“If we don’t watch out, things could get real bad, real quick,” Campbell said.

Support for the $165,300 Hadfield Road project faded with 23 voting for the project and 50 against it.

Townspeople approved $200,000 for the regular summer paving program. The majority of the money will be used to repave 2 miles of Brighton Hill Road, a mile on the Hebron end and a mile on the Auburn end.

The amount raised for town employees’ salaries and benefits — $248,747 — was down about $3,000 from last year.

“We should thank our employees for accepting a pay freeze for that,” Budget Committee member Emily Tuttle said.

Budget lines seeing increases included the amount for county tax — up more than $11,000 to $186,292 — and the amount Minot will pay for library services at the Auburn Public Library.

For the past two years, the town has contracted to pay the library $15,000 a year to make the its full range of services available to all Minot residents.

Administrative librarian Sharon Hawkes justified the library’s request that Minot now pay $20,000 by pointing out that the number of Minot residents using the library has increased each year and that currently Minot has 583 active cardholders.

Townspeople agreed that, for the level of services provided, $20,000 was certainly a bargain.

Townspeople voted to establish a General Assistance reserve account, funded through private donations, to be used in emergency situations for those not eligible for General Assistance; adopted a new cemetery ordinance for the town’s 27 cemeteries; and approved $1,500 for scholarships for the Minot Summer Enrichment Program.

Registrar of Voters Hester Gilpatric reported that 81 residents attended the meeting.

“It’s really sad,” she said. “We’ve always had over 100, usually 200.”

Turnout for Friday afternoon’s municipal elections, with no contested seats, was 39 voters. Elected to new three-year terms were Stephen French and Daniel Gilpatric, selectmen; and Susan Callahan and Steve Holbrook, RSU 16 school board representatives.

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