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Warrant draws small crowd on issues
PERU- A little more than 50 citizens showed up at the Dirigo Elementary School on Monday night to discuss the warrant articles the town will be voting on at the June 12 referendum. The crowd was unusually quiet compared to recent selectmen’s meetings.
Chairman of the Board, Tim Holland began the meeting getting right down to business and opening the floor to discussion on two of the town’s hot topics.
The first, “To see if the town will vote to adopt the changes made to the shoreland zoning map,” in order to allow business to continue to be conducted at The Bus, thus opening the area between 271 and 341 Greenwoods Road to a limited commercial from a limited residential district.
Citizens’ only inquiry was why had The Bus been able to conduct business for so long if they weren’t in a commercial district. Chairman Holland noted that the town had never caught, but now selectmen are doing what they can to remedy the situation.
The other major topic of conversation throughout town was addressed in Article 26, “Shall the town adopt an ordinance for political activity involving town employees.”
Chairman Holland noted, “This is an important issue. We have a five member board, with at least one abstaining from each vote. That causes issues when we have three or even two of us in a meeting. It’s impossible to conduct business with this type of situation.”
Citizen Bob Dolloff noted, “We’ve had employees of the town sitting on our boards for many years. If the citizen has enough interest in our town to run for office and wants to make a difference, I don’t see why they should be denied. Often we don’t have enough people interested in running for office.”
Dickie Powell countered, “There have been a lot of issues over the years, it’s about time we change things as far as I’m concerned.”
A concerned citizen questioned how the selectmen came to a vote of a ‘yes’ recommendation on the warrant article. Chairman Holland noted that three of five of the selectmen agreed to a yes decision.
“What would happen if the board of selectmen were made up of five town employees? I think we need to have some guidelines set,” noted Rick Childs.
Moving on, questions were brought up over the town office roof replacement, chimney extension and the replacement of two exterior entry doors to the tune of an estimated $60,000.
Chairman Holland informed the citizens that selectmen had received word-of-mouth estimates from roofing experts that stated the town should be able to have a pitched, steel roof put on the building for less than $60,000.
It was also stressed that whenever it rains, there are tiles in the hallway and the voting room that are discolored from the water coming through and falling due to saturation.
The two entrance doors would also be replaced with a wider, ADA-accessible entry.
While most of the regular county, Med-Care and NORSWB items went through without question, citizens did have an issue with the town paying 100 percent of employees health benefits and the request for $90,000 for the purchase of a public works truck.
It was noted that insurance costs were increasing over the 6 percent cost that was budgeted in 2012, to 14 percent for the 2012-2013 budget year. The town pays 100 percent coverage for five employees.
Marie Eastman noted, “There is no reason why, when other companies aren’t paying 100 percent of their employees health insurance, a little town like ours should.”
Several citizens present agreed with what Eastman stated.
The other major item of the night was that of the possible replacement of a 1999 F-550, one ton public works truck.
Road Comissioner Joe Roach noted, “This truck is the work horse of our force. It has more than 8,000 hours on the engine and the body is beginning to rust out on us. It’s vital to our productivity.”
Yvette Umbro questioned why they just didn’t rebuild the motor, while Dennis Thibodeau noted, “While we’re all sitting home on Christmas Eve with our families opening our presents, our road crew is out there spreading sand and plowing for us to be safe on the roads. I say whatever Joe needs to do that, we give it to him.”
With $90,000 being in question to be appropriated, the article also requests citizens to allow selectmen to issue a general obligation bond of the town in the same amount in order to fund that appropriation. At an estimated interest rate of three percent for a two-year maturity, the estimated cost of the bond will be $94,050.
The referendum vote will take place at the Peru Town Office voting room on Tuesday, June 12. Absentee ballots are available by calling the town office and are due by Thursday, June 7.
Citizens Tammy Ferland and Yvette Umbro invited citizens to please help support their local Servant's Heart Food Pantry by bringing items to donate when they go to the town office to vote next week. Any non-perishable items, household items and cash donations will be accepted.