CANTON — Voters at Thursday night’s annual town meeting approved taking $100,000 from town surplus to offset their share of the Regional School Unit 56  budget.

The $13.2 million school budget, which represents an average increase over last year of 24 percent for Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru, was defeated Tuesday by a vote of 375-596.

The four towns voted last November to leave RSU 10 and form their own district to save money and gain more control. RSU 56 begins operations July 1.

The school budget also played a role in Canton selectmen recommending no money this year for repairing or replacing highway equipment.

The Budget Committee recommended $40,000; selectmen recommended no money. Voters went with the selectmen.

Resident Chris Dailey asked selectmen why they didn’t recommend any money.

“The numbers the Budget Committee has are the numbers we originally wanted to go with, but once we started hearing what the school (budget) is gonna be, we decided to scale back where we could,” Selectman Robert Walker said.

Selectman Don Hutchins added to Walker’s explanation, saying the budget for reserves for town roads was “flat-funded from last year when we put all the money, $55,000, into one account to buy a truck.”

He said the town would hopefully receive more money from the Canton Mountain wind power project that is set to begin commercial operations in December.

He also noted his fear about education costs, saying, “I gotta be honest with you, the school (budget) kind of scares us.”

Regarding the $100,000 appropriated from an undesignated fund to offset education costs, Selectman Brian Keene said selectmen thought it “would make it a lot easier on the taxpayers.”

An article to raise $23,300 for professional services such as legal costs, auditors, and assessors and maps had to be raised to $26,300 because the town will have to hire a lawyer for a Freedom of Information Act request by Chris Dailey, Hutchins said.

The town will have to answer questions pertaining to the Water District and will need a lawyer to oversee the FOIA inquiry, he said.

Dailey is requesting records on Water District finances and personnel, Hutchins said in a phone interview Friday evening.

“Just as a point of interest, FOIA requests are happening quite often now,” town meeting moderator Richard Pickett told residents.

An ordinance passed that allows people to sell items and be exempt from licensing and inspection, provided the transaction is only between the producer or processor who sells products at farmers markets or roadside stands.

An ordinance allowing recreational use of town properties, including the public beach at Lake Anasagunticook, Whitney Brook Trail, Canton Heritage Park, ball field, public garden, ATV park and ride, and two boat launches off Route 140 and Staples Hill also passed, but not before questions were raised.

Keene said the ordinance cited an incorrect law.

Planning Board member Becky McDonald asked him why his questions weren’t brought up at the public hearing on the ordinance and Keene said he had prior commitments that evening.

“Why are we hearing about these (issues) now at a town vote?” asked Ashley McCorkingdale, who spearheaded the local food ordinance and worked with other Planning Board members on the recreational land use ordinance.

She said the Planning Board presented the ordinances several times at selectmen meetings.

An article to close a section of River Road from 408 River Road to the Peru town line to winter maintenance from November to April, also passed.

Election

Chosen for three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen were incumbent Russell Adams and write-in candidate Carole Robbins, who received 43 votes.

Planning Board members Rebecca McDonald and Mary Wainwright were re-elected, along with newcomer William Siano. All terms are for five years.

Bicentennial

The Canton Bicentennial Committee announced before the meeting that a celebration is being planned for August 2021. The committee’s website is www.1821canton2021.org.

A cribbage tournament to raise money for the celebration will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 17, at the Town Office. The entry fee is $10 per person.

Budget approved

Less than 50 voters approved the 2017-18 municipal budget of $850,203. It’s about $218 more than last year. Major expenditures include:

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Canton Planning Board member Ashley McCorkingdale speaks at the annual town meeting Thursday about the Local Food Ordinance, which voters passed. It allows residents to sell items and be exempt from licensing and inspection, provided the transaction is only between the producer or processor who sells products at farmers markets or roadside stands.

Canton resident Rene Ouellette wears a Canton Bicentennial T-shirt at the annual town meeting Thursday night. A cribbage tournament to raise money for the 2021 celebration will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 17, at the Town Office.

Canton selectmen, from left, Don Hutchins, Russell Adams, Carole Robbins, Brian Keene and Rob Walker attend the annual town meeting Thursday evening.

Percy Butler, standing, questions selectmen at the annual town meeting Thursday evening about money from the defunct Access Channel. Meeting moderator Richard Pickett said Butler could attend a selectmen meeting to ask for more information.


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