STRONG — Selectmen on Tuesday failed to agree on improvements at the Town Office and whether to put larger road projects out to bid.

Taxpayers in 2015 approved money for improvements at the Town Office, and selectmen at that time discussed ways to improve efficiency, ergonomics, safety and comfort.

Since then, new furniture was purchased and arranged at the office.

On Tuesday, not all selectmen agreed on the desk arrangements.

“I think we could do a few things different than what we talked about,” Selectman Mike Pond said, referring to rearranging some of the desks while Treasurer Sandy Mitchell is on vacation this summer. 

“I talked with Sandy and (Town Clerk) Betsy (DuBois) about it, and they like it,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Dick Worthley said. “They live with it every day so it made sense to leave it the way it is.”

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Worthley said the money approved by voters was used as planned and that rearranging the office furniture while an employee was on vacation wasn’t an appropriate action.

On another issue, selectmen reviewed ways to collect taxes on personal property due since 2012.

Pond said if one business pays taxes on their personal property, every business should. He suggested that taking delinquent taxpayers to small claims court might be a solution.

He said the state’s system is flawed, and that the town of New Sharon recently voted to discontinue assessing personal property for tax purposes. Although it shouldn’t be up to selectmen to decide whether to collect taxes on personal property, they would try to work with the business owners, he said.

“There’s someone in this town who has a garage who doesn’t pay personal property taxes,” Pond said. “We need to go after these guys.”

Selectmen, as assessors, are responsible for collecting taxes and discovering, describing and determining value of both real and personal property to comply with state statutes, according to state law.

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Selectmen agreed to speak privately with several of the business owners who haven’t paid taxes on personal property.

In other business, Pond gave selectmen a list of the maintenance and repair road projects for this summer.

Selectman Rob Elliott asked why the Public Works Department wouldn’t consider putting a couple of the larger jobs out to bid.

Pond said the town would pay more by doing that.

“I’m a little skeptical about where you’re going with that, to be honest with you,” Pond told Elliott. “Are you just trying to save money, or are you trying to do away with the highway department?”

Elliott said he didn’t understand why Pond would ask the question. Elliott said he couldn’t understand why selectmen wouldn’t at least consider alternatives.

“We need our highway department, and if you’d listened to me, you’d have heard me say they could be doing other jobs,” Elliott said. “Maybe we would save $500 or $1,000, and maybe we wouldn’t, but I think we just ought to consider it.”

Elliott suggested at least asking for bids so selectmen can review whether hiring a contractor would save money or get more jobs done during the summer.

His motion to request bids for some road work did not receive a second, and selectmen took no other action on the matter.


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