Strong selectmen table decision on backhoe

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STRONG — Selectmen on Tuesday night postponed a decision on spending nearly $120,000 for a new rubber-tire backhoe for the town’s highway department.

Selectman Mike Pond reported that the cost of the new equipment with finance charges would be $119,330, which includes finance charges for the three-year agreement.

At the 2017 town meeting, voters approved three payments of $35,000 toward the purchase of the new backhoe. Since voters did not stipulate what the backhoe total should be, selectmen had discussed taking the difference from the Special Equipment Fund.

Highway Department Foreman Duayne Boyd said selectmen and voters had asked for prices before they would approve a purchase. His original figures weren’t intended as a limit, he noted, but his original estimate was up to $120,000 for a spending plan. He asked selectmen why he had provided costs for the equipment he needed if he had known in advance that he had a limit of $105,000 for the proposed backhoe.

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Pond told selectmen he thought the March town meeting vote allowed leeway to spend $105,000 and take the remaining money from the Special Equipment Fund.

“There are two ways to achieve this,” Pond said.

He suggested that if Maine Municipal Association agreed that the voters’ intent was to limit the purchase cost to $105,000, selectmen should call a special town meeting to approve taking the rest of the funds from that Special Equipment Fund.

Selectmen informally agreed to have Pond call Maine Municipal Association for an interpretation.

In other matters, Selectmen Chairman Dick Worthley updated selectmen on a plan to replace sections of Village Cemetery fence and remove years of accumulated debris along the property lines.

Contractor Mike Yeaton gave him an estimate of $3,500 to do that work. Much of the work involves clearing brush and years worth of debris, Worthley said. Worthley said Loon Land Surveying will have the results of a boundary survey soon, and he will have that information on boundary lines between the abutting property owners and the cemetery. He received a quote $6,270 for replacement fencing from a company in Belgrade.

Alternatively, he suggested a PVC fence would last longer and look nicer. The price tag would be approximately $7,800 for that choice.

Worthley said he also will request costs for making the gate entrance larger, which will allow larger equipment to come through for maintenance or repair work. Worthley received a bill for $5,200 to repair stones from mason Albert Stehle.

“He put a rock on the top of each stone he repaired,” he said, and he encouraged the public to visit the cemetery to see Stehle’s excellent work on the oldest stones in the cemetery.

In other matters, Main Street resident Stephen Johnson asked for a blinking yellow light in front of Strong Elementary School.

Worthley told selectmen he checked in advance of the meeting to verify the town’s ability to participate in that decision. The Regional School Unit 58 school district and the Maine Department of Transportation are the decision makers for that concern, and selectmen don’t have the responsibility.

Selectman Rodney Spiller said the ATV club will continue to operate as a group, despite a lack of volunteers to help with repairing, clearing and monitoring trails.

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