SANGERVILLE, Maine — The Board of Selectmen is looking to reward two municipal department heads for some frugal spending in 2012.
The selectmen recommended that the fire and public works departments be allowed to keep most of their budget surpluses for next year’s projects after Town Manager Dave Pearson reported last week that the year-end audit showed surpluses in all town accounts.
The selectmen decided to draft language to place warrant articles allowing the two departments to carry forward surpluses into next year’s budget. The board voted 2-1 that the $21,228 in the fire department’s surplus be used to either build its capital reserve account for either a new firetruck or be used to pay off the rescue vehicle. The board wants to consult with the fire chief on how he proposes to use the surplus.
The board also recommended that the public works department retain most of its surplus to purchase an additional vehicle and address an erosion problem near the town garage. The selectmen voted unanimously to place separate articles in the town warrant to approve the purchase of a used truck worth between $6,000 and $8,000 and allocate up to $10,000 for repairing erosion damage.
Selectwoman Melissa Randall believes the department heads should be recognized for their prudent spending in 2012 by not being penalized for losing the unspent funds.
“Whatever the unexpended balance is in the fire department budget should be carried forward into next year’s budget in their capital improvement budget for either a new firetruck or paying down the rescue vehicle,” Randall said. “I think such diligence should be rewarded. We should ask the chief how he wants the surplus used as far as new equipment purchases.”
Selectman Irving McNaughton voted against placing all of the fire department surplus in the capital reserve account. He wanted to return a portion of it back into the general fund. McNaughton did approve using most of the public works department’s surplus to fund 2013 projects. He proposed using the surplus for both the erosion work and to purchase a used truck.
“I agree we should give back some of the fire department surplus, but I’m against putting all of it back into the capital reserve account,” McNaughton said.
The selectmen weren’t the only ones who had ideas about warrant articles for the 2013 March town meeting. Two residents presented the board with three petitions for warrant articles. Former Selectman Lance Burgess and Sangerville Community Forest Committee member Bill Rowe presented the board with three petitions with 100 signatures regarding the town woodlots’ future.
The petitions ask the town to permanently retain ownership of the woodlot acquired through a tax lien foreclosure, retain ownership of two other town woodlots and establish a permanent fund used to maintain the woodlots.
Burgess and Rowe began the petition drive over the recent board discussions about selling the woodlots.
The town sought a legal opinion about selling a woodlot that was given to the town by the federal government. The board received a letter from the Eaton Peabody law firm in Bangor that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had a public use restriction in the agreement which “would make selling the woodlot difficult.”
The petitioners needed 68 legal signatures to place the articles on the town warrant. Town officials will verify the signatures and have a legal review of the petitions’ language prior to placing the matters on the warrant.
The selectmen will meet next at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8.