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Sumner voters approve $194k for roads
TOWN MEETING — About 110 voters gather at the Hartford-Sumner Elementary School for town meeting Tuesday.
SUMNER — Some 110 voters gathered at the Hartford-Sumner Elementary School Tuesday night to act on 37 articles, including the approval of $194,022 for winter road maintenance of which $24,000 is earmarked for salt and another $10,000 for a sand/salt storage site.
Voters also approved $10,000 for the town's road equipment account, including a carryover of $37,090 to replace the town's old grader.
The meeting began at 7 p.m. and lasted about two hours.
State Representative Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield, moderated the meeting.
Dan Perron ended his term on the board of selectmen this year and residents voted for his replacement during the meeting – Kelly Stewart won 68 votes, defeating Kathleen Emery with 41.
Stewart has been actively involved in different areas of town affairs for eight years. She has served on the volunteer fire department, the school board, the scholarship committee and was a volunteer for the Neighbor's Care Program.
Chairwoman Mary Ann Haxton opened the meeting by thanking Perron for devoting time away from his farm and serving the town.
During the town's special election last October, Stewart stepped down as a candidate for selectman and instead urged the crowd to vote for Walter Litchfield, who currently serves on the board.
"I will stand for unification versus divisiveness," Stewart told voters Tuesday, moments before she was elected.
"I am independent and willing to listen to all citizens," she said. "Also, let's remember, it is possible to move ahead with the times and keep Sumner simple."
Jim Keach was reelected to a one-year term as road commissioner with 102 votes. Keach has been the town's road commissioner for the past 15 years.
Residents voted down an article asking them if they would like to exceed the Property Tax Levy Limit established for Sumner by the state law under LD1.
"There is no need to exceed LD1 because our budget as projected falls under the limit established," said resident Bob Runes.
"I have no wish to exceed the limit," said Administrative Assistant Cynthia Norton, "but if some of the articles are increased, we are in a conundrum."
The town's current budget, excluding the school budget, is $676,000 – with the school budget, it's $1,438,000, said Town Clerk Susan Runes.
"Under LD1's terms, we could raise an additional $32,327 over what we raised last year," Runes told voters. "We are actually under by $1,494. There is no need to exceed LD1 – the municipal budget is lower this year than it was last year."
Voters also enacted the town's Board of Appeals Ordinance, which the town has been without for years. State law requires that each town has a BOA ordinance.
Voters passed $700 for General Assistance for the ensuing year. Runes said $1,485 was spent on GA last year – but was reimbursed $723 from the state – which meant the town overdrew the account by $62.
"General Assistance is one of the only accounts by law we must overdraw if there is a need," Runes explained to voters.
After hearing from a representative of the recreation committee, the town voted to spend $4,500 on recreation, up $500 from the original amount.
"We came out with a bare-bones budget when we turned it into the budget committee, and it's $4,490 – that's what it's gonna cost us this coming year," said Chris Bragg, who sponsors three girls softball teams and is now sponsoring a boys summer baseball team.
"They recommended cutting it by $500," he said. "There's been no maintenance on the field for the last four or five years, except by volunteers ... We haven't purchased a bat since 2003 – right there is $7-800 just for bats."
Residents also voted to raise and appropriate $6,300 for social services.
"I've seen things improve over the last year," REACH coordinator Stephanie LeBlond told voters. "Without your support, our children would not be receiving the personal safety programs [needed] in our schools."