JAY — Selectpersons voted 3-2 Monday not to buy a 2014 wheeler truck and plow package to replace a 2003 International truck.

The old truck had 166,000 miles on it as of April 8 and continues to break down, officials said.

Selectpersons Chairman Steve McCourt, Pearl Cook and Vice Chairman Justin Merrill voted not to buy the truck; Tim DeMillo and Tom Goding were in favor.

The estimated cost was $133,468 after subtracting a trade-in of $29,500, Merrill said.

“I’ve expressed to all department heads that I didn’t want to see any big purchases until we see what happens across the river,” McCourt said.

He was referring to the revaluation of Verso Paper Corp.’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay. The company has requested a tax abatement of $469 million. Verso believes its property value is $460 million

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Selectpersons cut or eliminated department’s capital reserve accounts in the proposed $5.57 million municipal budget for 2014-15.

Highway foreman John Johnson said he understood McCourt’s reasoning. He said this is about economics and the best way to spend taxpayers’ money.

The truck was put in service on July 31, 2002, and has plowed 13 winters, according to Johnson’s written information to the board.

The truck is one of four wheelers, and plows routes 133 and 156 and roads including Hyde, Masterman and Davis.

The truck travels 38.7 miles round-trip when plowing, he said.

Johnson said department heads have worked with Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere to create efficiencies. Not plowing the roads was not one of the scenarios discussed, he said.

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There is currently $272,404 in the Highway Department’s capital balance.

If the board waits until next year to purchase a new wheeler, the truck will cost more and they will have to continue to repair the current truck until then, he said. The truck will need to be replaced next year, he said.

McCourt asked if one of the other wheelers could be used on the route 133 and 156 route.

All of the routes that the bigger trucks do are long, Johnson said.

“We can take and fix the truck,” he said. The days it runs, they’ll use it and the days it doesn’t run, they won’t use it, he said.

Somebody has to acknowledge when the truck isn’t running that the phones at the Town Office and Highway Garage will be “red hot” with people complaining about their roads not being plowed, Johnson said.

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McCourt said officials are going to make do with what they have, even it means people will have to drive through some snow.

DeMillo said it was discussed during budget talks to try and curtail major purchases.

Johnson also discussed a need to buy a truck this year with some of the capital funds, he said.

If the board chooses not to buy a truck this year, then board members need to have the courage to step up and ask why the town didn’t buy one and they need to have the courage to give the department the money to fix it, DeMillo said.

Residents Bill Calden and Ellen Levesque said they supported buying a new truck.

Bill Calden said he wouldn’t invest more money in an old truck.

“My personal opinion is we need safe roads,” Levesque said, and it is important they are salted and sanded.

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