HARTFORD — School expenses make up 65 percent of the town budget and impede the town’s ability to provide other needed services such as improved roads, Selectman Jack Plumley said at Thursday’s board meeting.

He said the only way the town can hold the line on taxes would be to cut the summer road budget. He and others have been talking to the Jay school district and find that the Hartford tax rate would be significantly lower if the town joined it and left RSU 10.

There will be a public informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 22 in the Buckfield Town Office, second floor, for residents to question with RSU 10 Superintendent Tom Ward about the RSU 10 budget.

That will be followed by a budget validation meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 31 in the Muskie Auditorium of Mountain Valley High School. This is the voters’ opportunity to control the size of the budget, according to selectmen. Board members said they would do what they can to get residents to attend and vote at this meeting.

In other business, a culvert collapsed on Labrador Pond road, isolating several camps. Selectmen said they hope money can be found in the road budget to keep this public road passable.

Major road projects scheduled for next year are on Church Street and Gurney Hill Road, between Route 219 and the town salt shed.

The Planning Board needs a new member. Selectman Chairman Lee Holman said the Planning Board is extremely important to the town.

“It is a board with important responsibilities and authority and not just a committee,” she said. Selectmen accepted, with regrets, the resignation of Planning Board member Jenifer Adams.

While approving an Oxford Networks request to place underground cables, Holman said their underground cables have cost the town and are an inconvenience. Every time the town does road work it must contact Dig Safe to locate the underground wires. Even then, the wires are not always where they are marked and they can get damaged.

When Oxford Networks threatened to sue a town contractor over such an incident she said she got them to drop the charges by asking them how much rent they were paying the town for using its right of way and how much they were saving by not paying Central Maine Power rent for using their poles.

Selectmen discussed a town meeting warrant item to change the road commissioner from an elected to an appointed position. They also discussed cutting timber from town land and relocating the transfer station at a more convenient spot. These will be reconsidered at a later date.

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