CANTON — Town Administrative Assistant Tina Cagle resigned Thursday, effective immediately, and accepted two months’ pay in lieu of a two-week notice, Chairman Russell Adams said.

In her letter, Cagle did not give a reason why she is leaving the post she has held since July 2018. She took over from Scotty Kilbreth, who resigned in April 2018 and is now a selectman.

The resignation was announced after an executive session held soon after the meeting began.

Meanwhile, Deputy Town Clerk Carol Buzzell has been appointed acting administrative assistant. She is the only office employee now.

Vice Chairman Carole Robbins said Friday evening that the Town Office will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 20, because it is short staffed.

Adams added that Buzzell will not be available that day or the week of Thanksgiving because she’s on vacation, therefore the office will be closed that week and reopen the first week of December.

Town Office hours are Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.

In other business, resident and Regional School Unit 56 Director Natalie Sneller advised that Canton is the only town to pass all four proposed budgets for 2019-20. All four spending plans have been rejected at districtwide referendums.

The latest one, $12.79 million, is 4.1% more than in 2018-19 and represents an average increase of 13.64% in town assessments.

“At this point, we are still trying to get a budget passed and at the same time we are starting the budget process for next year,” Sneller said.

Sneller also told selectmen the school board is undergoing “a short-term discussion and there’s a long-term discussion” on the current budget and next year’s budget while also “looking at the financial viability of the school district moving forward.”

She said property valuations for all four towns — Canton, Carthage, Peru and Dixfield — have risen and “impacted state subsidy levels pretty significantly at the same time as other costs go up. So, how as a district, do we handle (having less state subsidy)? That’s the long-term discussion,” she said.

Sneller said Superintendent Pam Doyen has requested selectmen from all four towns attend the school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Dirigo High School in Dixfield to share their thoughts on the budget.

In another matter, Lisa and Steve Wills said the food pantry in the Canton Fire Station has more supplies than needed so they have invited Hartford residents to use them. It is open from 9-10 a.m. Sundays and from 9-10 a.m. the third Tuesday of the month.

Volunteers collect food two days a week at Hannaford in Rumford and one day a week at Walmart in Mexico. Last year, the pantry gave out about 52,000 pounds of food, Steve Wills said.

In other news, resident Sara Moore, president of the nonprofit Wilder Waters Community on Thorne Mountain Road, said the nonprofit is seeking the town’s support in applying for grants to purchase more land for conservation and education purposes.

Canton residents Sara Moore, left, Diane Ray and Kelly Adams chat before Thursday’s selectmen’s meeting begins. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

“Essentially what we’re doing with this land is using it as a type of outdoor classroom where we’re reintegrating people into the natural community,” Moore said. “So, obviously humans once were an integral part of the forest and of nature and we’ve totally kind of disconnected from that and we’re trying to teach people skills that we all used to have, foraging for food, creating clothing out of animal hides and making medicine from native medicinal plants,” she said.

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