NEWRY — Selectmen unanimously accepted a bid Tuesday night for tree trimming from a Bethel tree-removal business.

However, they accepted it based on the daily rate that the contractor included, even though that wasn’t requested in the bid specifications. None of the other bidders provided a rate.

Top Notch Tree Service LLC of Bethel, which submitted three bids, including one with a daily work rate of $1,200, got the nod, because it included a daily rate.

At town meeting in March, voters approved raising and appropriating $4,000 for the work.

Selectman Brooks Morton said every bid was well over the board’s estimate for the work.

“There was one that gave an hourly rate, and to me, the option would be to pick the one with the hourly rate and get as far as we can and do more next year,” Morton said. “Or we could go to a special town meeting and raise an extra $10,000.”

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“Ow, no, that’s too much,” Selectmen Chairman Wendy Hanscom said.

“We didn’t ask for a daily rate,” Code Enforcement Officer David Bonney said. “I don’t know if we want to ask the other bidders for a daily rate. The other ones gave us what we asked for.”

Administrator Loretta Powers said she didn’t want to seek that information or put the project back out to bid, because summer would be over before any work was done.

Bonney said the board could hire a contractor on a yearly basis to handle all tree- trimming work.

“Trees are going to grow every year,” he said. “We may want to whack them back every year.”

“Do we have some priority areas that we could spot check this year to get the priority areas done?” Morton asked. “You know, start and do $4,000 worth and leave hazards down the road?” 

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“Well, we always leave hazards down the road,” Bonney said. “We could pick out some priority sections and pick away at it, probably on the same section of road or roads.”

“How many branches can you cut for $4,000?” retired Selectman Steve Wight asked, breaking everyone up in laughter.

“Is there a danger if we do nothing this year and put more money in it next year?” Morton asked.

He said he didn’t want to put it back out to bid. Morton then motioned to accept Top Notch’s bid and told Bonney to limit the work to $4,000 and prioritize which of the town’s 11 miles of 13 roads would get its trees cut back.

In other business, selectmen examined the grange hall’s old heating system to determine how best to replace it.

However, the board put the decision off to a future meeting. Instead, they needed more information about installing heating systems in old buildings, Hanscom said.

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The board also discussed at length what to do about summer roads after receiving only one bid that came in $15,000 over what the board budgeted for the work.

Wight suggested talking with the bidder to try and reduce the costs. Selectmen agreed that was the thing to do and asked Powers to have the bidder attend the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, May 20.

They also asked Bonney to prioritize road work projects based on which needs to be done the most.

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