SANGERVILLE, Maine — Selectmen were questioned by residents Tuesday about damage to the town’s road sanding unit and the subsequent purchase of a replacement sander at a cost of about $8,000 without voter approval.
Board chairman Lance Burgess said the sander was damaged extensively when it was dropped by a public works employee the day before Thanksgiving.
“The selectmen were as ugly as hell about it,” Burgess acknowledged.
Burgess said town officials have taken measures to ensure something like that doesn’t happen again, although he didn’t specify what those measures were. He said any discipline will be handled by Town Manager Michelle Dumoulin.
Dumoulin had contemplated repairing the sander but learned it would cost $5,500 and would take some time. In addition, it would have cost the town about $1,500 to hire a private contractor to plow during Friday’s storm, according to Burgess.
Burgess said Dumoulin did what she had to do. After calling selectmen to get their opinion of what should be done, she purchased a new unit, he said.
The damage put the selectmen and the town manager in a “hell of a position,” Burgess said, adding it was unfortunate for the town.
It was a “very onerous decision” to consider spending town funds, but it was a matter of public safety, Selectman Tom Carone said Tuesday.
Resident Irving McNaughton presented the board with a copy of a town meeting vote from the late 1980s that requires voter approval for the use of the equipment reserve for the purchase of equipment more than $3,000.
McNaughton was told that the funds to purchase the sander were not taken from the equipment reserve but rather from the winter road account, an account that can have an overdraft.
When McNaughton continued to press selectmen about when the discussion took place about the sander, whether or not an unofficial meeting had occurred and if a consensus vote had been made, Burgess became angry. He accused McNaughton of trying to entrap the selectmen and said, “I’ve had enough of it,” essentially cutting off further discussion.
“The correct decision was made … the way it was handled was correct,” Burgess said.
Town officials have not decided what to do with the damaged sander.
In an unrelated matter, the selectmen voted to establish a no parking zone 40 feet north of the corner of Douty Hill Road and Route 23.
This decision came after concerns that motorists leaving Douty Hill Road could not see around vehicles parked near the intersection, Carone said.