Mike Dignan, director of the Paris Public Library, makes his case for increasing the library budget during the annual town meeting Monday night. Sun Journal photo by Jon Bolduc

PARIS⁠ — Residents at Monday night’s annual town meeting voted to add $200,000 to the Capital Improvement account for roadwork and $4,000 to the Social Services account for the Paris Public and Hamlin Memorial libraries.

Selectmen recommended $720,245 for the Capital Improvement fund. However, resident Bob Jewell made a pitch for $200,000 more to cover crumbling roads, particularly sections of Paris Hill Road.

Selectman Gary Vaughn said parts of the road were dug up for construction and not put back properly.

Jewell said the Capital Improvement account has grown over the past three years, but none of the money has been used to address Paris Hill Road issues.

Vaughns said roads are not selected by the population along them or the number of drivers using them. Instead, repairs are based on repair needs.

Jewell said that method ignores the tax base on Paris Hill Road, which has been passed over for repairs for the past three years.

“I think this town should step forward and go with the amended amount to send the selectmen a message that we need this stuff fixed,” Jewell said. “You can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

The amended article passed 38-36.

Former Town Manager Vic Hodgkins said the $200,000 will likely add 60 cents to the town’s tax rate, an amount Selectman John Andrews said could be drastic for some residents.

Before voting on the Paris Public Library budget, Raymond Glover, vice president of the Paris Public Library Board of Trustees, made a motion to increase the $175,500 recommended by selectmen.

“For the past two years,” he said, “the library has not been receiving the amount it has requested and needed in its operating budget.”

Rusty Brackett, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said selectmen did not recommend the amount requested by the library because it included a 6% raise for two full-time staffers and five part-time staffers, while town employees get a 2% annual raise.

“I’m not saying it’s not deserving, but I’m saying why would it be more than the 2% everybody else gets?” Brackett said.

Library Director Mike Dignan said the library pays its two full-time and five part-time employees $13.25 an hour.

“Asking them to get a 75 cent raise is not unreasonable,” he said. “If we are held to this amount, the library quite frankly is going to have to cut services. We run a very, very tight budget. There’s no fat, except on me. That’s why the board felt strongly that we should make this case tonight.”

He said the state minimum wage will increase from $11 to $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020, meaning every library employee, including some who have worked at the library for 15 years, will only make $1.25 above minimum wage if the extra money the library requested is not approved by voters.

Voters approved giving the public library $3,500 more than the recommended $175,000, and the Hamlin Memorial Library $500 more than the $4,000 recommended.

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