NEWRY — Residents voted at Tuesday evening’s annual town meeting to raise and appropriate $10,000 for the Mountain Explorer public transportation program.

The free service based in Bethel that takes people to Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and restaurants in the area.

Town Administrator Amy Bernard told voters that at the 2015 annual town meeting, the Mountain Explorer group requested $10,000, double its usual request. Residents voted to contribute $7,500.

Pat Roma, a Mountain Explorer Committee member, told voters that the increase in funding was to help the Mountain Explorer Committee avoid “tapping into the reserves.”

“Right now, we use the reserves to replace equipment when it’s beyond its useful life,” Roma said. “By asking Bethel, Newry and some of the businesses to kick in a little extra money, we’ll be able to lessen — if not eliminate — the need to dip into our reserves for other things.”

Resident Brooks Morton asked Roma if the Mountain Explorer Committee considered charging a nominal fee of use.

“Yes, we considered it, but it’s not allowed under the terms of the grants we receive,” Roma said. “The grants demand that (the Mountain Explorer) be a free service, and if we lose the grants, we wouldn’t be able to make it up with regular service fees.”

One resident said Roma and the Mountain Explorer Committee had been “vigilant” in keeping their expenses as low as possible throughout the year, adding that they had researched the busiest and slowest times of day for the transit program and scheduled trips accordingly.

Roma said, “If we keep dipping into reserves, we won’t be in the position to replace vehicles when that day comes.”

Residents re-elected Gary Wight to a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen, and elected Whitney Gray to a three-year term as a School Administrative District 44 director. The two were unopposed.

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