MINOT – With moderator John Geismar about to declare the business of town meeting closed, Selectman Eda Tripp rose to congratulate the gathering.

“The $1,462,500 and something we raised today is less than what we raised last year,” Tripp said.

While the overwhelming atmosphere at Saturday morning’s meeting was one of fiscal restraint, on the strength of appeals by Recreation Committee members Candace Gilpatric and John Pratt, voters ignored recommendations by the selectmen and the Budget Committee to cut $20,000 from the $55,000 being requested to fence and finish two fields, one baseball and one softball, at Minot Memorial Park.

Much was made of the large volunteer contributions in labor, materials and equipment that had created a community asset, and the people agreed that the investment needed the protection that full fencing afforded.

Voters also agreed to continue the $15,000 contract with the Auburn Public Library that began last year.

Going into the meeting, the Budget Committee was against replacing a 2001 backhoe with a new loader. But Town Administrator Arlan Saunders presented the case that with 5,000 hours of service, the backhoe could prove expensive to maintain and, capable of loading only one cubic yard at a time, matched poorly against the loader, which has double the capacity and a taller reach so that it won’t require a ramp when loading trucks.

The clincher for the Budget Committee, and voters, was the change in the proposed cost. The original proposal was $90,000 spread over three years, which was reduced to $53,516 over two years.

Two other last-minute changes helped keep spending down.

As a result of the selectmen’s recent decision to merge the town administrator and road manager positions, Dean Campbell was able to ask that $44,500 be stricken from the $295,000 being requested for town salary and benefits.

Also, the $175,000 being requested for winter roads was reduced to $115,000 following receipt last week of a $60,000 check from FEMA, reimbursement for the storms in December.

Residents overwhelmingly rejected a windmill ordinance.

Voters accepted Pleasant Drive, a road serving a subdivision off Brighton Hill Road, as a town road.

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