Voters to decide police salaries

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DIXFIELD – Selectmen on Monday set a special town meeting to act on two issues, including one that would provide police officers with the same raise other municipal employees received this year.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, July 23, in the kitchen of the Dixfield fire station.

The town’s Finance Committee recommended that $10,268 be approved for salary increases, along with $2,500 for associated insurance and benefits.

At Monday’s meeting, selectmen voted 3-1 not to recommend spending the money. Only Selectman Norine Clarke voted to approve.

Town Manager Tom Richmond said Tuesday that selectmen believe the police budget already can absorb the salary hikes without having to collect another $10,268 from taxpayers. He said the wage increases were inadvertently omitted when the budget was drawn up and adopted at the annual town meeting.

Residents at the town meeting will also decide whether to authorize selectmen to sell a small piece of property known as the old town dump off Route 2 to the state Department of Transportation. A highway project is planned for that area next year and the property is needed as part of the project.

In other matters Monday, Richmond said a meeting has been scheduled with the Mexico Water District board for Wednesday, July 18, to discuss a possible three-year contract for operation of the Dixfield Water Department.

Richmond said he, Selectman Raymond Carlton and a Water Advisory Committee member will meet with the board.

He said, too, that Dixfield will have to apply to the state Public Utilities Commission for a water rate increase, something that hasn’t happened in several years.

In a related matter, the board approved hiring the Ted Berry Co. of Livermore to clean the pipes of the sewer system at a cost of at least $54,500 for each of the next four years. That cost would rise according to cost-of-living adjustments. They also approved hiring Wright-Pierce Engineers of Topsham to transfer mechanical drawings to aerial photography maps provided by the state so that it will be easier to locate pipes, at a cost of about $4,000.

He said a rate increase will be needed to help pay for the work and to eliminate the subsidy the town has been paying for sewer service during the past few years.

“It’s a 30-year-old system and we don’t know what’s down there, what the potential problems are. The cleaning will minimize the chance of blockage,” Richmond said.

Sewer rates have not increased for years, he said. Sewer customers will begin receiving bills with an estimated 35 percent increase in October.

A public hearing on the sewer rate increase is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. on Monday, July 23.

A $193,724 sewer budget for 2007 is expected to be adopted by selectmen when they meet prior to the July 23 town meeting.

A second public hearing on a request by Roberta Bryant for a liquor license for a business to be known as Hoppy’s Place on Weld Road will be held that same night at 5. The restaurant is expected to open next month.

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