JAY — Selectpersons voted 3-2 Monday to accept a petition signed by 373 voters and to hold a special town meeting to raise and appropriate $120,000 to restore curbside trash and recyclables collection.

Selectpersons tabled a decision on the petition June 26 while they sought legal advice.

Voting to approve the petition were Selectpersons Chairman Terry Bergeron, Gary McGrane and Keith Cornelio. Opposed were Selectperson Judy Diaz and Vice Chairman Tim DeMillo.

Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said that according to legal counsel, the board could reject the petition because residents voted on a budget that did not include money for the service on April 25, or they could accept the petition and suggest a solid waste committee be established that may come up with other suggestions on how to handle it. The town’s committee has been inactive.

Resident Lillian Wight, an organizer of the petition, suggested the town hold a special town meeting for voters to consider raising and appropriating the funds as soon as possible.

Selectperson Gary McGrane said he recommended that a committee be formed to discuss the matter and develop possible recommendations.

Resident Terry Trask said people were confused when they voted because they did not vote on curbside pickup, but on the Transfer Station budget.

Bergeron pointed out that voters approved the Police Department budget and it eliminated a full-time detective, but that wording was not included in the article.

Voters on April 25 approved a Transfer Station article for $330,450 by a vote of 364-217 that did not include $120,000 for the service. The  town’s contracted service expired June 30.

A special town meeting was set for Aug. 14 to consider raising and appropriating $120,000 to reinstate the service. That will give the town time to include money in the tax assessment, if voters approve the article, when the tax rate is set at the end of August.

Selectpersons will meet next week to appoint a committee to look at possible suggestions on the curbside matter. 

McGrane suggested there be a mix of people on the committee to represent both sides of the issue. He and Diaz will serve on the committee, as well as four residents who volunteered. Anyone who is interested in serving on the committee is asked to call the Town Office at 207-897-6785. 

McGrane said he could understand that some people may have been confused about what they were voting on because the article did not specifically say that by approving the article that curbside service would be eliminated.

There was discussion on not funding the service throughout budget discussions and before the annual town meeting earlier this year.

Asked about the cost of a town meeting, LaFreniere said that a vote by hands would not cost the town any extra money, unless selectpersons want to advertise it. If a referendum is held, it would probably cost $500 without using a voting machine, she said.

Voters overwhelmingly approved keeping curbside pickup service provided by the town in 2010. In a November 2013 advisory vote, residents voted 457-322 to have the town contract with an outside company to provide the service rather than eliminating it. Selectpersons did not give voters the choice at the time to keep the service.

Town officials have been trying to reduce the cost of town government given the continued decrease of the valuation of Verso Androscoggin LLC paper mill and associated property. The town is in the midst of paying Verso $4 million to settle a three-year tax dispute.

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