STRONG — Voters at the town meeting Saturday elected three municipal officers and approved spending slightly over $1 million to operate the town in 2017, an increase of $42,583 from last year’s budget. 

On Friday, Rod Spiller defeated challenger Rupert Pratt 92-73 for the selectman’s seat vacated by Jim Burrill.

School board directors Lois Barker and Jessie Stinchfield were re-elected. Selectmen will appoint a candidate to fill the seat vacated by Loretta Deming.

Voters declined to approve appointment of Budget Committee members by selectmen, although there were no candidates on this year’s ballot. They also approved holding next year’s meeting on the third Saturday in March.

Selectman Mike Pond’s 10-year proposal to purchase new equipment for the highway department generated the most discussion. After an hourlong debate, voters approved spending up to $35,000 per year for three years to purchase a backhoe, rather than adopt Pond’s original five-year lease-purchase plan for unspecified equipment.

They also tabled a vote for a $20,000 Pond Road improvement and paving project.

Voters approved allowing selectmen to spend up to $10,000 from surplus for emergencies and unanticipated expenses, which will avoid having to hold a special town meeting. The final $591,461, raised and appropriated from taxes, $57,522 from other revenues and $355,104 from surplus is $42,583 more than last year’s budget.

Selectmen reassured voters that they had a comfortable cushion of reserves available.

“We have $785,000 in surplus,” Selectman Mike Pond said. “We grew $1,000 over last year in undesignated funds.”  

Town meeting moderator Sue Pratt, left, swears in new Selectman Rod Spiller and incumbent Regional School Unit 58 Director Lois Barker on Saturday. The annual elections on Friday drew 166 voters. Approximately 50 registered voters cast their ballots on Saturday to set the slightly over $1 million budget for 2017.

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