PARIS — Selectmen are considering how to move forward with a five-year replacement schedule for town equipment and vehicles drawn up by Town Manager Amy Bernard.

During their meeting Monday, selectmen discussed the merits of beginning to allocate tax dollars in the annual budget for future purchase of big-ticket items such as fire engines and Highway Department vehicles.

The replacement schedule includes hundreds of pieces of equipment and two dozen town vehicles, as well as an estimated replacement date and cost. The schedule goes up untill 2018.

The purpose of having a schedule is to avoid having to borrow money to make large purchases, according to board Chairman Bob Kirchherr. If the town can anticipate large costs ahead of time, it might be able to save for the eventuality with tax dollars and save money on interest payments, he said.

“I’d just as soon not take out a loan,” Krchherr said.

According to the list, the town already has a number of high-cost vehicles and pieces of equipment that have passed their date for replacement or are due to be switched out this year.

The estimated full cost of the first year of the replacement schedule for the town’s four departments is $530,700, according to the schedule. Included are two police cruisers, two highway department trucks and an SUV for the Fire Department.

Bernard acknowledged that the sum was probably not feasible, and told selectmen she has not yet worked out a cost-benefit analysis to see if it was preferable to take on debt to make a quick purchase or save incrementally for equipment in the future.

“I think we need to have some guidance as to how much to budget each year as far as capital expenses,” she told selectmen.

“As you can see, there are some big-ticket items that are coming up shortly,” she said, pointing out that some of the Highway Department’s vehicles are almost 18 years old.

Selectman Sam Elliot said the town should take advantage of low interest rates and borrow money to buy big-ticket items that need urgent replacement.

Kirchherr disagreed, saying he thought the replacement plan should be used as a blueprint to save for purchases five or even 10 years into the future.

All selectmen said they would like to see a cost-benefit analysis, as well as replacement and upkeep costs for the town’s buildings and facilities, before making recommendations.

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