Machias sets new warrant policy after concerns raised

Posted July 09, 2009, at 10:10 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday night responded to a member’s concerns that checks were being issued by town office staff before the warrant was signed by the board.

This policy was questioned two weeks ago and Chairman Aubrey Carter said Wednesday that, although the practice had been common for years, it could be changed.

Carter said he checked with several other towns and their policies vary. Some towns have individual selectmen come into the town office at their convenience and sign the warrants, while others meet weekly.

Carter said the only problem with holding all checks for two weeks while awaiting a regularly scheduled board meeting was the issuance of paychecks.

All of the board members said they had no desire to hold up the employees’ wages, so they voted to hold only vendors’ checks until the warrant signing and to allow office staff to issue paychecks before the signing.

In other business, the board approved the purchase of a new, larger tank for the town’s wastewater treatment facility, at a cost of $859. Superintendent Robert Bialota explained that because of high water levels due to rain, more chemicals than usual were needed to treat the effluent, particularly sodium hydrochloride. The current tank is 150 gallons with an open top.

“We can go through 100 gallons in a day,” Bialota said. In addition, the open top is allowing vapors to damage the roof and walls of the facility.

The larger tank will let Bialota store more chemicals and prevent the vapor damage. He said he could install the tank himself.

The board also approved a new water testing probe for the facility, not to exceed $700. “Buy it before the price goes up,” quipped Selectman Norman Nelson.

The board also:

— Changed a town shutdown day from Sept. 7, which is Labor Day and already a holiday, to Sept. 8.

— Extended an injured employee’s time out on medical leave by 12 days to allow a final doctor’s visit for clearance to return to work.

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