STRONG — Selectmen agreed Tuesday to include an article in the annual town meeting warrant asking voters to use money from the Village Cemetery Trust Fund to maintain private cemeteries.

The money will be included in the 2016 budget that goes to voters at the annual town meeting Saturday, March 5.

The town is obligated to maintain veterans’ stones in the nine private cemeteries in town.

The trust fund pays for maintaining the municipally-owned Village Cemetery. Selectmen contract for mowing and trimming there, and at several old private cemeteries. The fund has about $500,000.

Also considered for the 2016 budget is money for maintaining the Forster Memorial Building. Selectman Mike Pond said the ceiling in the meeting hall needs painting and the wall-mounted elevator from the first floor to the basement needs to be stabilized.

One project the board did not budget for in 2016 is four new signs marking the entrances to town. The wood signs were donated by the historical society many years ago and have deteriorated badly. 

The board agreed to put $2,500 in the budget for legal fees, 50 percent less than in 2015.

Pond recommended a warrant article calling for excise taxes to be put into the Highway Department budget, because more money is needed to keep up with road repairs.

“We do a half mile (of paving) for $60,000,” he said.

Excise taxes now go into the general fund.

Pond also asked selectmen to support a warrant article to take $40,000 from surplus to purchase a used excavator.

“Why can’t we just rent one?” asked Selectman Dick Worthley. “Why do we need a piece of equipment that sits in the town garage 11 months of the year?”

Pond said the Highway Department’s rental costs can amount to $5,000 or more per year. If employees rented an excavator, the money will be wasted if it rains all week, he said.

In other matters, three property owners have not paid their 2013 taxes, according to Treasurer Sandra Mitchell. She said taxpayers will have to pay all back taxes, as well as 2016 taxes, to receive a quitclaim deed. The town does not want to sell the properties, and at least one has occupants, Mitchell said.

She also reminded dog owners that registrations must be paid by the end of January or they face a $25 fine. 

There are four offices to be filled in the March 4 elections: two selectmen, a fire chief and a school board director.

School board directors Loretta Deming and Jessie Stinchfield, Selectman Pond and Fire Chief Duayane Boyd have announced they will seek re-election. Local business owner Rob Elliott has announced his candidacy for the seat vacated by Selectman Milt Baston, who has served nine years.


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