SUMNER – Voters added $10,488 to a $905,631 budget on Monday night at the annual town meeting, adjusting the final figure to $916,119.40. Last year’s budget was $836,631. Town Clerk Susan Runes was not sure how much the tax rate will increase.

There was considerable discussion of the override article to allow the town to exceed the state set property tax levy limit; $50,000 would have to be cut if the override had failed.

The article passed 64-11.

Even after the discussion, voters added several thousand dollars to the budget.

A total of $413 was added to the administration budget. After several amendments, $18,529 was requested by volunteer fire Chief Robert Stewart to repair a fire engine pump was OK’d, to be raised by taxes instead of from the fire equipment fund.

George Jones asked if the pump needed replacing immediately. Stewart replied, “A state-certified inspector looked at the pump and told me we can’t use it.”

Each year the town has added $10,000 to the fire equipment fund in anticipation of getting a new tanker. The amount was cut by the budget committee this year.

Robert Walder, a retired 50-year fire department veteran said, “It is critical that we have water. The existing tanker is a death trap. We are going to need a new truck.”

Stewart said he hated to hit the public with that much tax increase but the 1977 Dodge is an old Pepsi truck. The frame wiggles as the water in the tank shifts from side to side, and it is difficult to drive.

Questions arose about mutual aid helping in case of a fire. Stewart said, “Buckfield does come to aid, but they are 25 minutes away. We can get to the fire in minutes and hopefully save a structure.”

An amendment to put the $10,000 back into the budget passed.

Also added to the budget was $75 for the Rape Education and Crisis Hotline after a representative from REACH spoke. The agency had requested $150, but that was cut to $75 by the Budget Committee.

Considerable discussion arose over whether or not to allow the town to accept Fields Hill Cemetery. Selectman Mark Silber said the town already owned the cemetery, but the vote would make it legal.

Connie Cushing spoke at length to say the one-third acre plot was an ancient burial ground and an abandoned cemetery. She believes it is a family cemetery.

Two thirds of the cemetery has no stones and there are no records to indicate if anyone is buried there or not.

The article was tabled. That made the next article to allow lots to be sold by the town moot.

In 46-32 vote, Mary Ann Haxton defeated incumbent Cliff McNeil for a three-year term as selectman.

John Phillips defeated incumbent Kelly Gould for a three-year term as SAD 39 director, and Jim Keach received 78 votes for road commissioner.

The meeting was moderated by Terry Hayes.


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