STRONG — A motion to raise salaries for five employees in 2017 failed to get a second at Tuesday night’s selectmen meeting.

Chairman Jim Burrill suggested each get an increase of less than 3 percent or an additional fixed dollar amount. His motion did not receive the required second to bring it to a vote.

The discussion came during deliberations on the 2017 budget, which takes effect Jan. 1.

Selectmen agreed to finalize the purchase of three pieces of office equipment from W.B. Mason. In March, voters approved $3,000 to renovate work stations and other improvements. The designated funds must be spent before Dec. 31 or the money will be transferred into the 2017 surplus account.

Selectman Mike Pond told the board that the Bosch pump on the highway crew’s bucket loader has failed and repairs will be expensive and take a month. Renting equipment temporarily will cost at least $4,000.

Town employees had to use an excavator to load sand and salt onto trucks during the recent storm, but that was not efficient or safe, he said. He suggested that selectmen develop a plan to fund future heavy equipment purchases, because several pieces of machinery have aged beyond reasonable costs to repair.

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“We’ve got to figure this out,” Pond said. “There isn’t a piece down there ( at the town garage) that you could replace for less than $160,000.”

Burrill noted that raising $90,000 would mean raising the tax rate $1 per thousand dollars of assessed property value. He said voters often don’t realize the limited choices selectmen have to consider for these pieces of equipment.

Selectmen are considering lease-purchase agreements that can allow the town to make fixed annual payments spread over several years.

“The more options we can take to the town, the more they’ll understand it,” Burrill said.

Office Manager Sandra Mitchell also told selectmen that the Town Office operating budget will need to consider annual fees for software, copier costs and the purchase of two laser printers.

This year’s surplus in that account is approximately $3,600, and selectmen agreed to ask for $2,500 to cover anticipated 2017 costs.

Selectmen also expressed concern that members of the Budget Committee have not attended any of their five recent discussions on the upcoming town budget. The committee is responsible for reviewing selectmen’s final recommendations for 2017 and making alternative suggestions for voters.

In other matters, Burrill announced that custodian Tanis Chabot submitted her resignation and provided a two-week notice. Selectmen will advertise the position for a week.


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