STRONG — The town is in good financial shape, selectmen were told Tuesday night.

Town Treasurer Sandra Mitchell shared the recent audit report from RHR Smith & Co. accounting firm. It included information on the surplus account, which maintains enough money to operate the town for three months. According to Mitchell, the 2018 surplus carried over to 2019 was $717,358. The 2020 surplus carried over from 2019 is $894,732.

That’s good news for taxpayers, selectmen agreed.

“The auditor is saying we don’t need that much,” Selectman Jim Burrill said.

At the March 2019 town meeting, voters approved taking only $150,000 from surplus, rather than the $250,000 requested. They also approved an annual budget that required selectmen to raise taxes in August.

This year, selectmen agreed to ask for $250,000 from surplus. They also reviewed the possibility of paying off a lease-purchase agreement on the 2020 Western Star plow truck they financed through Daimler, the dealership’s financing partner.

Annual payments were set at $29,337.72 for six years at 3.80% interest, including the trade-in of the old Volvo truck. The six-year agreement included $21,000 in interest payments.

Paying the truck loan from the surplus account can be done, according to Highway Department Foreman Duayne Boyd. That will save the town $12,000 in interest, but the town will pay a $9,000 penalty.

Selectman Andy Pratt said the truck arrived in January and that has thrown the payment schedule off. He plans to review the original lease agreement and ask Daimler to modify the payment arrangement to accommodate the town’s original budget plans.

Selectman Rodney Cook requested $2,500 for Christmas lights along Main Street to replace ones that don’t work. They were donated by the Strong Historical Society.

Mike Carlton and his employees at IEC Integrity Electric have donated time and equipment to hang them on CMP poles for the month of December. New lights cost about $400 apiece, but Cook said he could buy them at a significant discount off season if voters approve the warrant article.

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