ANDOVER — Voters at town meeting Saturday approved a $600,000 road bond and agreed to repair the town clock with an electronic control mechanism.

The bond is for 10 years with an interest rate of 2.8%. The project includes paving, culvert work, ditching and shoulders on Farmers Hill, South Arm, East B Hill and East Andover roads.

Andover Fire Chief Jim Adler explains his department’s budget during town meeting Saturday. Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson

Voters had two options to repair the clock that sits on top of the Town Hall: to repair the clock to its original working fixtures and condition at an estimate of $35,000 or to repair it with an updated electronic time control with the original striker hammer and bell to be used for bell-ringing at an estimated cost of $17,000. They chose the latter.

Both options for the clock’s repair would be paid with insurance money, so residents were not as concerned about the cost as they were with other details.

Resident Fred Bailey asked who would operate the clock if it were returned to its original fixtures. Selectman Brian Mills said he thought the task would go to a custodian or maintenance person.

A question on whether the town should regulate short-term rentals by creating a committee to prepare an ordinance passed by a vote of 23-19.

Resident Deb Cayer said she owns rental properties in Andover and she thought there should be at least seven people on the committee. She expressed an interest in being a committee member.

Andover resident Freeman Farrington speaks at town meeting Saturday. Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson

Cayer also said that her tenants go through a “series of approvals and verifications” before they are accepted. “I review every group that comes to my house,” she said

Residents Pete Coolidge and Fred Bailey thought there was no need to form a committee for short-term rental ordinances. Bailey said it was “overkill” and Coolidge said “problems should be regulated by the owner.”

Voters also gave the OK to removing trees around the town library because they have become a safety hazard. Selectman Mills estimated that about 45, including their stumps, will have to be removed.

On Mills’ request, voters approved an amendment not to exceed $25,000 for the tree work.

A vote for $45,810 for Fire Department operations passed, but Fire Chief Jim Adler had plenty to explain about why the amount was necessary.

“Small departments in the state of Maine are now under the microscope of BLS, Bureau of Labor Standards, which is an off branch of (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and they’re checking all of your data, hose test, pump test, (and other tests) and these functions cost a lot of money,” Adler said.

He said the Fire Department has only a core group of “seven or eight” volunteers and the testing is outsourced to other businesses in order to keep the department in compliance.

Resident Dick Merrill said he would vote to pass the Fire Department operations budget but “somehow this town has got to get this (budget) under control.”

“A lot of this increase is due in part because we accepted a ladder truck for free that cost us around $15,000 to get repaired,” Merrill said. “We also got a bill that’s gonna be coming due of this budget for around $6,400. So all things (that) are free aren’t free and it has got to stop somewhere.”

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