PERU — Friends of Peru Elementary School on Tuesday asked the Finance Committee why it voted against recommending a warrant article to provide $10,000 toward maintaining the building in 2015-16.

Three years ago, the town voted to rent the school to the group for a minimal fee and to spend no more money on it. The group manages the building and pays for its maintenance through fundraisers, grants, fees from events held there and rent from various groups.

On Nov. 4, 2014, voters approved putting the town in charge of the building again and donating $10,000 toward maintaining it in 2014-15. The vote was 500-313.

Selectmen approved an article for the June referendum ballot requesting another $10,000 for the coming fiscal year, but the Finance Committee voted against recommending its passage.

“Some people may look at that article and think, ‘We just gave them $10,000, and we’re giving them another $10,000,’” Board of Selectmen Chairman Lee Merrill said at Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting. “The thing is, we’re voting in June for another $10,000 because we need to have it in our budget for 2015-16. Even though it’s been six months, the school isn’t on the same budget schedule as the town.”

He said the town would add a note to the article that if it’s approved, the group wouldn’t be able to access the funds until Nov. 1, 2015.


Nick Waugh, chairman of Friends of Peru Elementary School, asked why the Finance Committee voted against recommending passage of the article. He said he hopes to use the money to build a contingency fund.

“It’s the money. That’s the bottom line,” Finance Committee member John Witherell said.

He said the group was “lucky to get the first $10,000. You said before that you could run without any support from the town.”

“I said that we were close to running without support from the town,” Waugh clarified.

“My feeling is, you did well getting the $10,000 in November,” Witherell said.

He said the Finance Committee gave no recommendation on the Nov. 4 article, but the ballot said the committee recommended its passage.


“That’s a big problem right there,” Witherell said. “The ballot was wrong. I’m not sure if it was done intentionally or not, but it had an effect on the outcome.”

Board of Selectmen secretary Angela Barkhouse told Witherell that when she printed the ballot, she made a mistake, but that it was not intentional.

“I’m not blaming anybody here,” Witherell said.

“Yes, you are,” Barkhouse replied. “You’re saying that you think someone may have intentionally made a mistake. I’m owning up to the mistake, but it was not intentional.”

“I believe you,” Witherell said. “I’m just saying that it made a difference on the vote.”

Town Clerk Vera Parent said Friends of Peru Elementary School has spent $3,842 of its $10,000 to date.

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