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Poplar Hill residents petition for road repairs
MEXICO -- The action of Poplar Hill residents may yield some immediate results if voters agree during this Thursday's special town meeting.
The 6 p.m. meeting Thursday will have three money items. One article asks to allocate $100,000 (just under one mil) from the undesignated fund balance (surplus) to reduce the property tax. Town Manager John Madigan said the board is expected to set the 2012-13 tax rate following the special town meeting. He expects it will rise by about $2 per $1,000 valuation, from $23 to about $25.The increase is the result of higher school taxes of about $127,000, and increased municipal expenses.
A second article asks to allocate $140,000 from surplus to make this year's payment on the $2 million road construction bond.
Madigan suggested a third article, asking to allocate $50,000 from surplus to make some short term repairs to Poplar Hill Road.
Eight residents were in attendance at last week's selectmen's meeting as Bonnie Bouchard presented a petition signed by 34 residents of the road and asking for repairs because of its poor condition.
The petition calls for the proper repairs to the Poplar Hill Road and to the entrance to nearby Riley Road.
Noting that there is a nine-inch drop in a culvert on the road, resident Buddy Bouchard noted, "We just want basic repairs so we don't damage our vehicles."
Another said that after a heavy storm, most of Poplar Hill is in John Milledge's driveway."
Madigan looked at that road and noted, "That road needs some tender loving care."
He said that after the roads that the town has targeted for work, Poplar Hill is the next worst. Madigan said he has authorized engineers to survey that road, but the necessary reconstruction on the one-mile stretch would cost about $800,000, so it would be some time before the town could do this.
Madigan and the board then discussed what could be done in the short term. Board Chairman Richie Philbrick said quite a bit of ditching is needed. Also suggested was to do a grind and surface treatment. The town manager said he has asked the highway crew to repair the end of the Riley Road, which is especially bad.
Regarding the article to take $50,000 from surplus, the town manager noted that this could be made possible because, thanks to the past mild winter, the highway department turned backed $72,000 into surplus.
In other business, selectmen set two public hearings for 6 p.m. Sept. 25.
The hearings are to gather comments on a proposal to allow all-terrain-vehicles and snowmobiles to use Carlton Avenue to connect with the trail network, and to ban parking on the left side of Cherry Street.
The board also approved the purchase of a new Case loader backhoe from Bauregard Equipment of Saco at a cost of $78,700, including trade-in, which was nearly $20,000 less than the next lowest bid.
Later in the meeting, Selectman George Byam presented a case for a replacement stainless steel side dump body for the town's sander at a cost of $29,798. However, Philbrick was very concerned about depleting the $103,000 in the equipment reserve fund so early in the budget year. The board decided to make the purchase of the dump body contingent upon the town working out a deal to pay for the loader backhoe over a two-year period, maybe paying some $50,000 the first year, ensuring money will remaining in the equipment account.
Reviewing the highlights of the town's draft audit for 2011-12, Madigan said the town has $615,000 in surplus. He said $400,000 is needed in surplus to cover bills from July to October. There is a $102,708 increase in surplus over the previous year. "The town is in very good financial shape."
Fire Chief Gary Wentzell said the 2008 ladder truck, to be shared by Mexico and Rumford, has arrived. Following completion of state tests, it will be outfitted, then lettered. He believed it will be two to three weeks before it will be placed into service.