Paris residents vote down an article for a $4 million road bond during a special town meeting Monday night. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

PARIS — Ian Truman said King Hill Road is so bad his family doesn’t want to visit him, and when his wife needed to get to the hospital a few years ago, the ambulance almost crashed.

Now, Truman will have to wait before the town addresses the road because voters Monday night rejected a $4 million bond. The vote was 49-47.

The money was to address 30 major road projects in the next three years.

Rusty Brackett, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the tax rate wouldn’t increase if the bond was approved.

“We normally budget $500,000 a year for road repair,” he said. “This year, in fact, we’ve added $100,00 to that. The payment is well within that to pay for a year on the bond . . . it will not affect the (tax) rate.”

According to the article, the $4 million would have been paid back in seven years. Interest of 2.3% would have brought the total to $4.46 million.

Former Town Manager Vic Hodgkins questioned the numbers. The town provided a $571,000 yearly payback figure for the bond, but Hodgkins said that figure would be significantly higher with interest.

“My simple math . . . if we take $4,455,971 and we all pretend for a minute that we’re going to round that up to four an a half million, and the payback is seven years, that means that the payback is better than $600,000 a year,” Hodgkins said. “I don’t know where you folks get your number from, but simple math says that $4.455 million divided by seven is greater than the numbers I’ve heard so far.”

According to that math, $4.455 million divided by seven means a $636,000 payment each year.

Town Manager Dawn Waisanen said the $571,000 did not include interest.

In addition, Hodgkins said the budget year a couple hundred thousand dollars in the town’s surplus account was applied to offset spending and lower taxes.

At the meeting, Waisanen said there wasn’t much left in that surplus account.

“We have very little in that surplus account,” she said. “I don’t know the exact number, but it’s not even enough to talk about.”

According to Hodgkins, without that surplus and the added cost of the bond payments, the tax rate would go up 50 or 60 cents.

“With no surplus there, you’re going to have to automatically cut $200,000 from the budget or we’re all going to have to face the facts tonight before we even make a decision tonight that our (tax) rate is going to go up 50 or 60 cents,” Hodgkins said.

According to former Selectman Scott Buffington, Paris has historically had a higher tax rate than surrounding towns, and higher taxes affect the affordability of the town.

“A very important part with the real estate prices is how affordable our town is,” he said. “When people go and apply for a mortgage, what you pay in taxes affects what you can borrow.”

Buffington and several other residents supported voting down the article with the intention of calling another special meeting in the immediate future with bond options with different repayment rates.

“I think this needs to be thought through a little bit more,” Buffington said. “I would assume a well-built road should last 15 to 20 years. The payback on this bond is in a seven-year timeframe. I would be more in favor for a bigger project that had a longer payback, or a smaller project that had a longer payback.”

Resident Troy Ripley said the bond would be used to pay for three years of roadwork, leaving four years when the road budget would be devoted to paying for the bond.

“Is it reasonable to say that we’re not going to do road repairs until we repay this bond?” Ripley asked. “Are you then going to come and say ‘now we need another $4 million to do another eight years’ worth of work in three (years)?”

“My crystal ball isn’t working,” Brackett said. “You look down through this list of roads, and in three years there’s going to be a list of roads that should not need it.”

“I thought about that same thing too, Troy,” Waisanen said. “For three years, what are we going to do? You got nothing. We’re going to pay the fire station bond off in three years, so on that fourth year, we’re going to have that money.”

One fact not contested at the meeting was the roads listed on plan need work.

“What I’m hearing is that, yes, it costs a lot of money, but it’s a problem that has gone on a long, long time,” Truman said. “Probably a lot more money than we want to vote on.”

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