Residents question Peru budget

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PERU — A number of questions were raised at Tuesday night’s town budget hearing, including why the Fire Department budget appeared to be higher and why the town clerk was getting full health insurance benefits.

Less than 20 residents attended the session to review the 28 articles in the proposed 2011-12 spending plan.

Former Selectman Dicky Powell asked why the Fire Department budget was not separated into separate items and Dan Wing asked why it was higher than this year.

Selectman Tim Holland said it was the same as this year; it just looked like more because the entire department budget was in one article.

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Selectman Kathy Hussey said the board understood that voters preferred this method.

The town clerk’s expenses were grouped in the same manner as the Fire Department, and Powell again questioned the form.

Several people mentioned Town Clerk Vera Parent getting full health insurance benefits, and she replied that other town employees had been getting insurance and this was her first year to receive the benefit.

The most discussion was about the former Peru School. The board pointed out that other towns with closed schools are facing the same problem with upkeep.

Selectmen and the Finance Committee recommend $12,500 for maintenance of the building.

Former Selectman Dennis Thibodeau said the town has had the building for four years and still has not realized any income from it.

“Why would voters vote to raise money for the building?” he asked.

Board Chairman Laurieann Milligan said it was not a seller’s market now and the town had to keep up insurance and minimal heat.

Holland said the town can’t afford to fix it up for sale at this time.

Hussey pointed out that two years ago, the town voted to keep the school open as a community building.

On the request to put aside money for a property revaluation, Thibodeau asked if the town could afford to have a revaluation now.

“No,” Holland said.

Bill Hine explained that the proposed Conservation Commission would allow some areas of town with natural resources to be listed in a report, with the goal to preserve those areas.

The selectmen and Finance Committee have no recommendation.

Milligan said if the budget passes at the June 14 referendum, the tax rate would remain at $17.20 for $1,000 of assessed property value.

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