MINOT — Selectmen on Monday made recommendations on the amount of funding they would support for most items in next year’s proposed budget, but found themselves struggling with the fire department’s requests to expand its facilities.
The overall budget, less improvements to the town’s two fire stations and as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, stands at a little over $1.7 million.
This is an increase of about $100,000 over the current year’s budget, with the increase being driven mainly by the highway department’s budget.
Town Administrator Arlan Saunders noted that the need to replace two heavy duty culverts on Verrill and Goodwin roads account for boosting the amount for common roads by more than $60,000.
The amount being sought for equipment repair, Saunders explained, had been only slightly higher as of last week, but that the discovery over the weekend that problems in the exhaust system of towns’ 2008 Sterling truck caused him to add on another $6,000.
He said they had been able to make a patch, which should put replacement off into next year’s budget.
Several members of the board asked fire Chief Dean Campbell to revise his $180,000 request for renovations and expansions to both the Central Fire Station and the Orchard Station, allowing town meeting voters to address them individually.
Selectmen declined to make a recommendation on the fire station improvements.
The board also was hesitant to approve a plan to switch the Fire Department’s radio communications to the American tower over on Harris Road and ultimately made no recommendation.
On a vote of 3-0, with two abstaining, the board recommended approval of the Recreation Committee’s request for $15,000 to begin work on another athletic field.
Selectman Steve French noted that the Recreation Committee has an amazing track record of using relatively small amounts of town money to accomplish a great deal through volunteer labor.
Selectman Dan Gilpatric said there is no question of the demand for adding to the number of fields and noted that a private individual has offered to make a sizable donation if the $15,000 is approved.
The selectmen’s recommendations now go to the Budget Committee for review at its Jan. 7 meeting.
In other business, selectmen approved a catering permit for Davinci’s Catering Service at the Wedding Barn on Center Minot Hill Road; named Bernice Frasier to serve as the town’s representative to the Regional School Unit 16 Budget Committee, provided she agrees to serve; and agreed to extend the deadline for Greg Washburn to remove demolition debris from his gravel pit off Route 124 to Jan. 21.
Saunders also reported that the town office is now accepting in-person payment by means of credit and debit cards, but has not yet made the move to allow online card payments.
Selectmen also agreed to close the town office at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 24. It will remain closed until Monday, Dec. 29. The town office also will be closed on Thursday, Jan. 1, but will be open on Friday, Jan. 2.