Poland selectmen sorting out timber money

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POLAND — Selectmen decided Tuesday to present the town auditor with options for resolving how to handle proceeds from timber harvesting.

According to town records, voters at the 1997 annual town meeting approved placing earnings from timber harvesting in a capital fund reserve account. That account was never created and the earnings were put into the town’s general fund.

At the April 2015 town meeting, voters approved putting the proceeds into a reserve fund to buy land for conservation.

Selectmen are trying to determine whether they are bound to follow that action, what the status of the 2015 vote might be and how best to resolve the conflict.

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The issue surfaced in July and selectmen asked Executive Assistant Nikki Pratt to put together a history of proceeds from timber harvesting.

Although town records only go back to 2005 — by law the town is only required to keep financial records for seven years — Pratt said she was able to tap into town forester Fred Huntress’ records back to 1998. Total profits from then to 2014 amount to $110,406.08, she said.

Selectmen decided Tuesday to present the situation and some possible of options to the town auditor. The board agreed it was important to decide how it wants to proceed before taking the matter to a third town meeting.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Michelle Arsenault from the Budget Committee and thanked her for her service.

It also met with Poland Sno-Travelers spokesperson John Young and approved extending the organization’s beano license through the end of the year.

Town Manager Bradley Plante told the board that he took the citizens’ petition requesting a lower speed limit on Garland Swamp Road to Maine Department of Transportation officials.

Plante also announced that a discussion on laws regulating the growing, sale and distribution of medical marijuana was postponed from Tuesday to Aug. 18.

The issue arose after the Board of Zoning Appeals ruled against a marijuana grower who requested an after-the-fact building permit for a greenhouse in a residential zone.

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