Turner voters reduce spending

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TURNER — Voters at town meeting on Saturday reduced spending recommended by selectmen and the Budget Committee, which had aimed to keep the budget increase to 1 mill — $1 per $1,000 of valuation.

The six-hour meeting was attended by 113 residents and a few visitors. Many articles were approved with less than the originally requested funding. Only three articles were defeated and one passed with zero dollars appropriated.

Article 12 proposed raising $10,000 for buying and demolishing derelict buildings. Town Manager Eva Leavitt said the money would go into a reserve account since there were no projects scheduled for the next year. While most agreed that it was a good program, they were not in favor of raising the money if it was not immediately needed. Outgoing Selectman Kurt Youland said that the town should order the owners of such property to clean up the property or give it to the town.

Article 26, requesting $45,000 for the Public Works Building Reserve died for lack of anyone making a motion in its support. Both the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen had withdrawn their support for the article before it came up for consideration.

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Article 49 would have approved spending in excess of the state-imposed limit. Leavitt said there was no need to pass the article since the total amount approved by voters was less than the limit. The article was defeated.

Article 76 proposed a change to the “dead-end street” section of the Street Construction Ordinance. The present ordinance requires a cul-de-sac on dead-end streets. The proposed change would have required a “hammer-head” turnaround be provided for snow plows and emergency equipment. Planning Board Vice Chairman Ralph Caldwell said he plowed snow and what was needed was larger cul-de-sacs and that he found the hammer-head turnaround unsatisfactory. A mother spoke up and said she did not like the idea of trucks backing up in a residential neighborhoods because of the danger to children. The article was defeated.

Youland said that the $450,000 requested for paving and construction in article 34 was required to maintain the roads in their present condition. However in an effort to keep tax increases down, selectmen recommended spending only $250,000 this year. Youland said the budget should be sharply increased in future years.

Present personnel policy permits employees to accrue up to 960 hours of sick time that vests in accordance with a formula and is paid to them when they stop working for the town, according to Leavitt. This is a significant future liability for the town, she said. Article 7 raised $25,000 for the newly approved Accrued Absences Reserve Account. It will allow employees to sell back half of their unused sick leave at the end of each year with the remainder “banked” for use in case of a prolonged health-related absence. Leavitt indicated the move would reduce future town liability.

American Legion Post 111 presented the Turner Historical Society with the original 1920 Post Charter. The charter had recently been found in Buckfield and returned to the Turner post. Commander Ronald Hiscock said the post would hold a service at the Memorial Stone on Main Street at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day.

In Friday’s election, Ira (Ike) Goodman was elected moderator. Angelo Terreri was re-elected to the Board of Selectman for a three-year term, and Lawrence House was elected to a three-year term, replacing Youland.

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