Peru Town Clerk Deb Coudrain, right, stands at the ballot box Tuesday night at Dirigo Elementary School as voters prepare to cast ballots on a motion to postpone the special town meeting until the annual Town Meeting in June. The motion failed and voters overwhelmingly approved building a garage and buying trucks and tools to replace those lost in a fire in January. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

PERU — Voters on Tuesday approved money to build a highway equipment garage and buy two trucks to replace those burned in a fire Jan. 27.

The original article for constructing a garage was to finance up to $600,000 for up to five years and use $212,215 from property insurance for interest and the first payment.

Budget Committee member and former Selectman Tammi Lyons proposed amending the article to finance up to $400,000 for up to 10 years and use $212,215 from property insurance.

Voters passed the amended article 41-12 on a written ballot at Dirigo Elementary School.

The town has received close to $600,000 from its insurance coverage to date.

The building committee is proposing a one-story, wood-frame garage with a loft for offices in one corner. The garage would have concrete floor with radiant heat and a metal roof on the same site on Peru Center Road.


It would replace the 33-year-old building that was 2,400 square feet and deemed too small for the department.

Road Commissioner Brad Hutchings said it is not known if the building can be completed before next winter.

The vote to purchase a new 2023 stainless steel body, six-wheel plow truck for $263,000 was 30-19. It would be paid for over five years at 5.6% interest and take $52,000 from surplus for the first payment.

The purchase of a new medium-duty truck was approved by a vote of 41-9. The cost is not to exceed $155,000 and would come from the $179,273 remaining from vehicle insurance.

Hutchings said that after the fire he went to communities and looked at more than 300 vehicles before the town purchased three trucks for $171,000. They include two 10-wheelers that have 10 to 15 years of use remaining on them and a 1-ton pickup to get the town by for this past winter.

By a vote of 46-4, voters authorized selectmen and Hutchings to spend the remaining $24,273 from insurance to replace tools lost in the fire.


“We lost over $100,000 in tools and equipment,” Hutchings said. “We’re missing everything we had.”

By a show of hands, voters also authorized selectmen to take $1,830 from surplus to cover the 2022-23 Med-Care budget deficit.

At the start of the meeting, moderator Don Roach fielded a slew of concerns from people who said this was all new information to them and thought it would be better to vote on the articles at the annual Town Meeting in June.

Before people lined up to vote, Hutchings said if the trucks were approved Tuesday, arrangements had been made that both vehicles would be available if purchased on or before May 1.

A motion to table the articles and vote by secret ballot failed; 26 voted to table the articles and 29 voted not to.

Flames consume the Peru highway garage Jan. 27 on Peru Center Road, destroying the building and equipment inside and vehicles outside. On Tuesday, voters approved money for constructing a garage and buying two trucks. Peru Fire Department photo

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