WELD — Town employees got pay raises at town meeting Saturday as voters approved a budget slightly lower than last year’s. 

Selectmen and the Budget Committee had recommended an increase of $300 to the fire chief’s annual stipend, $200 more per year for the assistant fire chief and a 50-cent-per-hour increase for Transfer Station attendant Judith Marden.

Marden on Saturday recommended an amendment to include pay increases of $2 an hour for the equipment mechanic, grader operator, and tractor and truck drivers for a new rate of $14 an hour, and a $1-per-hour raise for the treasurer, whose pay will go from $13 to $14 an hour.

The amended article passed unanimously.

With those pay increases, voters raised $322,407 and appropriated $284,844 for a total budget of $607,251. The amount needed from taxation is $100,127 less than last year, a 5.7 percent decrease in the total budget. 

Voters enacted an ordinance prohibiting marijuana retail sales and social clubs. The vote was 23-7. Resident Allen Ogden opposed the article, saying he supported free enterprise.

Selectman Thomas Skolfield said the Legislature is still grappling with what to do about retail sales and social clubs a year and a half after the people approved a citizen initiative to allow recreational use of marijuana. 

“If folks in Weld don’t want these, this ordinance would prohibit them,” Skolfield said. “It would be similar to the dry votes during Prohibition.”

Resident Roger Ames said he uses marijuana medicinally. He supported the ordinance.

“You’ll be bringing in an element we don’t want,” he said.

Voters also approved replacing the front-end loader, which is 19 years old and worn out.

Road Commissioner Kelly Hutchinson said, “It’s the backbone of the town. We can’t get where we need to be without it. It’s used by the road department, at the transfer station, for town construction projects and for emergency situations.”

Hutchinson said last fall he had received trade-in quotes of $11,000 to 17,000. Estimates for repair are in excess of $31,000.

Voters loudly rejected Skolfield’s recommendation to move the town meeting to Tuesday, June 11, in 2019. He thought more people could attend then, especially young people who are busy on Saturdays. 

Resident Sean Minear said that is high school graduation week with many events scheduled. 

“I’m reminded of last year when we discussed changing to a fiscal year. People liked what they have. It’s tradition,” Minear said.

In municipal elections, incumbent Skolfield bested Anne Holloway 47-27; incumbent Hutchinson won the road commissioner position over Douglas Voter and Larry Fish, 49-19-2, respectively; and Nancy Stowell was elected to the Planning Board with 72 votes.

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Judith Marden proposes increasing the hourly wages for the equipment operator, grader operator, tractor driver and truck driver from $12 to $14 per hour and the treasurer from $13 to $14 at the Weld town meeting Saturday. Her amendment passed unanimously. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

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