Selectmen discuss vacant Budget Committee seat, increasing technology budget

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STRONG — At their meeting Tuesday night, selectmen noted that Audy Abbott, a long-serving member of the Budget Committee, died during the past week.

Selectman Milton Baston will contact Budget Committee Chairman Dean Stanley to determine whether he thinks there is a need to fill that position before January’s meeting.

Abbott’s term extends to March 2017.

Selectmen reviewed the option to add funds to their technology budget in order to purchase software which will help with budget calculations.

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Office manager Sandra Mitchell said much of the office work she and Town Clerk Betsy Dubois do each week has to be entered by hand several times. New software would allow them both to have access to up-to-date and accurate information. Citizens want the town staff to be part of the 21st century, which requires an investment in training and equipment.

“It took seven years for us to get the Motor Vehicle Registration software installed,” she said.

Selectmen will hold a special town meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 29, to ask for $25,000 for care of winter roads until the March 3 town meeting.

The Town Office is currently open four days a week. Selectmen decided not make any changes to that schedule. Selectmen also are waiting for the Franklin County Animal Shelter’s budget request for 2015. 

Selectmen also plan to connect with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to process hunting and fishing registrations.

Selectman Mike Pond reviewed a proposal to build a retaining wall near the town garage. Currently, an adjacent pole barn can be rebuilt to provide storage, but the structure can be full of water during rainy weather. During wet winter weather, he noted, anything stored in the barn stays frozen in pools of ice until spring.

Construction of the barn and the addition of a new salt shed is estimated to cost about $24,000. Pond said he would like to ask $8,000 to start the project this year, with the goal of adding another $8,000 each of the next two years.

Selectman James Burrill said he is proposing an article asking for voters’ permission to remove trees from the entrance of the town park on Burbank Hill. The area has space for a future Little League field or an additional recreational area. Although volunteers will be expected to create a Little League field, Burrill noted that a group of interested citizens had shown support for moving that plan forward.

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