AVON — Voters on Saturday approved a $211,000 town budget for fiscal year 2014, up from last year’s $198,000 spending plan.

About 20 townspeople appropriated money for roads, cemeteries, repairs and maintenance. They agreed with selectmen that they needed an additional $5,000 from excise taxes for the winter roads account.

“Our salt and sand supplies are depleted and need to be built up,” First Selectman Greta Espeaignnette said.

The town will pay $30,000 in 2014 to use the Phillips transfer station. It will pay $6,000 and $21,000, respectively, for fire protection services from Strong and Phillips. The cost for maintenance of four public fire hydrants on Avon Valley Road., Beale Street, Route 4 and Salmon Hole Road will be $4, 873.

Each year, selectmen receive requests from nonprofit agencies, and voters debated on amounts to approve or deny. They gave $600 to the American Red Cross, $200 to the North Franklin County Snowmobile Club and $346 to the Healthy Community Coalition.

They denied the request of $200 for Safe Voices, the Franklin County advocacy group for battered and abused women. Selectman John Calloway noted the organization already requests money from the Franklin County budget.

The policy against “double dipping” prohibits organizations from receiving taxpayer money from two sources, he said. Voters also turned down a request from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network or $100 because of perceived political leanings.

“If you give money to MPBN, you might as well send your money to the Democratic National Committee,” Calloway told the audience. “It’s an arm of the DNC.”

Avon resident and school board representative Jason Plog shared Calloway’s sentiments.

“It’s philosophically anti-American to support the media, because the media is a private enterprise,” Plog said. “Once you start doing that, you become communist, and we don’t want to go there.”

Phillips Fire Chief James Gould asked voters to appropriate $4,000 for reflective signage at each building in the town limits, whether occupied or not. Selectmen said the money is available and won’t be raised from taxes. Many of the buildings are not visible from the road, Gould said, and emergency services, including NorthStar Ambulance and county fire departments, waste valuable time trying to find unmarked buildings. Although citizens may think a number on a mailbox is helpful, he said, it’s important to have a number on both sides of the mailbox. Volunteers will help anyone physically unable to put the new house numbers on their residences or near the edge of the road.

Espeaignnette was pleased with the town’s support. Insurance costs continue to increase a little every year, and this year, the $6,710 allocation included $1,078 for town trucks, $1,000 for general liability, $1,901 for building and property coverage, $315 for town officers’ bond insurance, $1,500 for public officials’ liability, $782 for workers’ compensation and $134 for unemployment compensation.

“We recommended $25,000 for our equipment fund account to keep on our schedule of replacing a town plow truck every five years,” she said.

A new plow truck costs about $175,000, so the savings account allows the town to plan for the expense.

Espeaignnette was re-elected unanimously as first selectman. Mary Dunham will continue as town clerk and tax collector. Maureen Haley will continue as treasurer and Jerry Haines will serve as road commissioner. Bruce Dunham will serve as constable and Veronica Plog will serve as the town’s health officer. Paul Gardiner will serve as the town’s second school board director, replacing Dave Masterman, who submitted his resignation to the school board in February.

In other business:

* Townspeople thanked Mt. Abram High School student Calum Dixon for the community service work he did last summer.

* This year’s town report was dedicated to Edward and Josephine Gilchrist for their tireless community service.

“Anyone attending our town meetings could not possibly miss the several rows of seats filled by Gilchrists and Gilchrist clan,” Calloway said. “Gilchrists have been filling central roles in our community for many years, and it has been said, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.”


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