DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 Monday evening to authorize Town Manager Carlo Puiia to sign an excavator lease/purchase agreement.

Chairwoman Norine Clarke and Selectmen Eugene Skibitsky and Norman Mitchell voted in favor, while Selectman Aaron Jamison voted against. Selectman Hart Daley was not at Monday’s meeting.

The lease/purchase agreement for the excavator is $31,000 over five years, Puiia said, with the option to terminate the agreement at the end of each year if the town decides not to stick with it.

Public Works Foreman Randy Glover first approached the board about an excavator during its June 27 meeting. He explained that the 15-year-old backhoe his department currently uses for road projects wouldn’t be sufficient for some of the town’s upcoming road projects.

“I tried looking at how much it would cost to rent an excavator, but I found it would be more expensive to rent one for the summer than it would be to own one for the year,” Glover said at that meeting.

During Monday’s meeting, Puiia told the board that he spoke with town attorney Jennifer Kreckel about the lease/purchase agreement, because the cost exceeds $100,000.

“She told me that the best thing to do is to have you guys make a motion to authorize me to sign the lease/purchase agreement documents,” Puiia said. “It’s just her way of being careful and making sure everything is covered.”

Before voting on the issue, Puiia allowed residents opposed to the lease/purchase to speak.

One person said he was not against the idea of using an excavator “once in a while,” but he felt it wasn’t worth the money to buy one.

“Why not just lease one out for separate jobs, rather than letting the purchased excavator sit in a lot for most of the year?” the resident asked.

Glover explained that over the next three years he’s anticipating several road projects that will require the use of an excavator, rather than the backhoe the department currently uses.

“That backhoe is 15 years old, and if we start using that for some of the work we have coming up, it’s not going to hold up,” he said.

Skibitsky reassured some of the residents by explaining that when he first heard about the project, he wanted Glover to use it for a year and report back on how much he used the excavator on road projects, and how much money he saved by not renting an excavator.

“If we don’t think it’s worth it for us to have after the end of the year, we can terminate the lease/purchase,” Skibitsky said. “When I signed on for this, I signed on for one year, not five years.”

Resident Peter Holman said he likes the fact that the Public Works Department could rent out the excavator to the Mexico Water District without it affecting the warranty.

Clarke said she agreed the board should wait a year to see how much the excavator is used before making a final decision.

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