More money sought for winter roads in Strong

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STRONG — Selectmen have scheduled a special town meeting this month to ask for $25,000 more for winter road maintenance.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the board voted to have a 6 p.m. meeting Monday, Dec. 29, to approve funds to pay for unexpected costs related to bad weather, including overtime for employees. The early storms have required extra sand and salt, and with the bulk of winter still ahead, officials want to have enough money to pay costs.

“The last storm alone cost us $5,000,” said Mike Pond, highway crew liaison.

He also said the town garage employees need a computer and software that will allow them to allocate costs to particular projects and keep a record of their expenses and balances in their several accounts.

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“We’d like to have a roads and bridges account so they can keep track of costs when people ask us what the money has been spent on,” he said.

If voters approve the $25,000 request, any unspent funds will be rolled into the 2015 surplus account.

In other matters, Jason St. Onge of Bangor Savings Bank’s Payroll Department presented selectmen with an overview of the bank’s payroll service.

Selectmen approved a Jan. 1 start to have the bank handle payroll documentation and filing, including quarterly and yearly forms, paychecks and direct deposits.

The town will be billed $32 per week for up to eight employees. Additional payroll services will be billed at $1.99 per check.

St. Onge said payroll services include payroll checks and direct deposits, tax summaries, department summaries, state and federal filing of forms, deposits for federal unemployment insurance and employee W-2 and 1099 forms. The town does not have to sign a contract and selectmen can terminate the service at any time.

“It’s a pay-as-you-go payment and tax filing service,” St. Onge said.

The service also will provide a backup for the Town Office staff, as well as liability coverage for errors or missed filing deadlines.

“If you got a tax notice from the IRS or the state, we would handle that,” he said.

Town Office Manager Sandra Mitchell said she was relieved not to have all the responsibility and liability for payroll and human resources information. She also had more time-consuming responsibilities in the office, she said, so the service would let her catch up on other duties.

Town Clerk Betsy DuBois told selectmen that Lois Barker and Eloise Stevens will seek another term on the Budget Committee. Regional School Unit 58 director Ann Schwink confirmed she will not seek another term.

Selectmen Michael Carleton and Joan Reed said they do not plan to run for another term.

Rodney Cook, who currently serves on the Planning Board, said he will run for selectman. 

Dubois said she will have nomination papers available until Jan. 21.

Town elections will be held Friday, March 6. The town meeting will be held Saturday, March 7.

After an hourlong budget session, selectmen took up the issue of maintaining cemeteries.

The town is obligated to maintain Village Cemetery on Lambert Hill, but other graveyards are on private property.

The town started a fund for perpetual care of the town cemetery in 1913, according to Selectman Joan Reed. Each individual’s financial contribution was kept as a separate account.

In the 1970s, Reed said, all those accounts were combined into one and the money was invested in stocks. The account has nearly $500,000 in it, she said.

State law requires the town to care for several century-old veterans’ graves, even if they are on private property.

The town cemetery committee disbanded many years ago, Reed said, and selectmen have not been spending money to repair some of the broken stones.

Selectmen agreed to seek legal counsel to determine their limits and responsibilities, and whether they can use revenue from the stock portfolio.

Reed said she would try to reorganize the cemetery committee to oversee future improvements.

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