DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted to approve the Public Works and Grounds budgets during Monday night’s meeting.

Following a presentation by lead foreman David Phair and Public Works employee Craig Woods and questions from the board, Selectman Bob Withrow made a motion to approve $509,867 for Public Works’ expense budget, which passed by a 3-2 vote. Withrow, Chairman Mac Gill and Selectman Norine Clarke voted to approve the budget; Selectmen Scott Belskis and Hart Daley voted against it.

Belskis had earlier suggested that the board approve $500,000 and cut $9,867 from different sections of the Public Works budget that could afford to be cut.

When Withrow asked where the $9,867 would be cut from, Belskis replied, “Some sand, some salt, some of the maintenance, some of the service money. I could read off the whole list, but the vote’s going to be 3-2 either way, so you can make a motion to approve, and we’ll just vote.”

The board also voted unanimously to approve $23,850 for the grounds component of Public Works.

Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky told selectmen before the vote that they had three choices for the grounds budget:

* Approve an $18,656 budget, where the Public Works department would remain in charge of maintaining the appearance of the town’s cemeteries.

* Approve a $35,356 budget, where the town would bid the cemetery maintenance work to a contractor, leaving the Public Works department available to do other projects.

* Approve a $25,050 budget, where the town would hire a seasonal worker who would specifically work on mowing the lawns of the cemetery, leaving the Public Works department available to do other projects.

Withrow suggested that the board go with the third option.

Daley asked Skibitsky whether the board would save money by going with the seasonal worker instead of allowing the Public Works department to do the work.

“You won’t see a reduction in labor, but you will see an increase in the roadwork being completed,” Skibitsky explained. “There’s stuff around town that’s been neglected that Public Works will be able to get to.”

Belskis told Daley that money would be saved, since they wouldn’t be paying Public Works employees to do the work anymore.

Daley suggested that the board reduce the $25,050 grounds budget to $23,850 by removing the cost of a man lift from the budget, since the money to cover the man lift was in the Public Works budget.

The board unanimously voted to approve the $23,850 budget.

In other business, the board heard a brief presentation from a Dixfield firefighter who explained that the Fire Department would like to donate an engraved granite bench to the town, in memory of  firefighter Tim Frost, who passed away Sept. 7, 2011.

“Everyone knew Timmy,” the firefighter said, “and we really want to do something in memory of him. We’ve appropriated some granite, and I think we can get the engraving for free, and that will be forever like Timmy was around forever.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Withrow said. Gill and Daley agreed. The board will find a place for the bench after it’s built.

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