CARTHAGE — The Town Office, which hasn’t had any major improvements since it was built in the late 1950s, is getting handicapped-accessible bathrooms and new lighting.

First Selectman Jan Hutchinson said voters Monday approved taking $35,000 from the Saddleback Ridge Wind Community Benefits Fund to pay for the improvements to the former school building.

He said residents also voted to take an additional $8,000 from the fund for the Generations Club, which is overseeing the rebuilding of the town’s playground.

The 50 voters passed all 49 articles.

The municipal budget for fiscal year 2019-20 is slightly lower than last year, Hutchinson said.

“We’re watching our budget because of an increase with the Franklin County budget and the RSU 56 budget,” he said. “With the school budget, we’re looking at $300,000 more, and $100,000 more with the county tax, which is roughly a 1.5- to 2-mill increase in taxes.”

Hutchinson said the Saddleback Ridge wind towers “basically pay 62.5 percent of our overall tax assessment for the year. The wind towers depreciate an average of 5 percent each year, which means a loss of revenue in the tax base of around $3 million a year.”

To deal with this depreciation, he said the town of 563 residents has an account that has accumulated more than $1 million over four years, which they try not to draw from.

The account will be used in the future primarily to pay for the town’s education subsidy.

He said residents have raised money for a project on Judkins Road over Hutchinson Brook.

“We’re working with engineers to replace a culvert with either a bridge or culvert that has to be built with state specifications,” he said. “We had put out a request for bids early this spring and the bids came in at $272,000, which is quite a chunk of change for a small town.”

He said the town has checked into a stream-crossing grant.

“It all depends on the habitat, the volume of the stream, the species of fish,” Hutchinson said. “The state put us in touch with another engineering firm, which is working with us, to build this at the lowest cost possible for the town.”

Hutchinson said he believed bids will go out again in October, and depending on the results and the availability of contractors, work could begin as early as next spring.

Voters re-elected Tania Gage as town clerk and tax collector, and Nancy Blodgett as office assistant and treasurer for one year. They also elected Jan Hutchinson to a three-year term as first selectman. All were unopposed and were nominated from the floor.

Residents will vote on the RSU 56 budget from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, at the Town Office.

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