STRONG — Selectmen on Tuesday reviewed the final draft of the town warrant before they send it to voters March 17.

Voters will be asked to raise and appropriate $655,769 to fund the 2018 budget. That’s a $64,308 increase over this year.

Selectman Mike Pond asked board members and the Budget Committee to approve $27,635 for this year’s backhoe payment, and an undetermined amount to buy a one-ton pickup truck to replace one that won’t pass inspection this summer.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Dick Worthley was against asking voters for more money, noting that Pond had taken the money they should have in the Special Equipment Reserve fund account and spent it on last year’s payment for the new backhoe.

“We put an extra $35,000 into that account last year, and you went and spent it in the wrong place,” Worthley said. “We don’t agree on what should be done, so let the townspeople decide.”

Worthley was referring to the 2017 pledge of $60,000 for the special equipment reserve account. Voters raised and appropriated $25,000 from taxes and took $35,000 from surplus. Voters also approved buying a rubber-tired backhoe and appropriating $35,000 a year for three years.

Pond later asked selectmen to take money from the account to make a backhoe payment.

Pond said if taxpayers don’t approve the amount for another one-ton truck, the town crew would be short a vehicle. The cost to replace vehicles should be a primary focus, he said, and taxpayers should understand what equipment costs, compared to what they paid many years ago.

“Nobody’s brought the level of finances up to the level of replacement,” he said.

filed under: