Payroll increases, and animal officer gets an understudy

Voters at Saturday’s town meeting agreed to a smaller budget, but a bigger payroll.

Voters agreed to increase the deputy town clerk/tax collector’s hours from 12 to 24 hours per week and to increase the animal control officer’s salary by $500 to $2,500, said Selectman Donald Grinnell.

Residents also approved a request for $250 to create a new position: deputy animal control officer. The deputy officer will fill in when the full-time officer is unavailable.

Despite the payroll increase, the overall municipal budget will fall $2,500 to $294,000 thanks to cuts in the appropriation for legal fees and because installing a new exhaust system at the fire station cost $10,000 less than expected.

Voters approved all 38 warrant articles with amendments to three.

They agreed to sell an old town garage on Razorville Road to the Washington Historical Society for $1, but voters amended the agreement to return the building to the town if the Historical Society ever decides not to use it.

Voters took a similar tack with a proposal to donate $6,000 in interest earned by the Daggett School Fund to the Prescott Memorial School. The school must have selectmen’s approval to spend the money and voters amended the article to force anything purchased with the money to be returned to the town if the Prescott School is closed.

Selectmen were hoping to establish a voluntary retirement plan to assist in employee retention, but voters amended the request to allow the board to explore the idea. Selectmen were instructed to come to next year’s town meeting with a proposal, including cost.

Voters taking part in the secret ballot portion of the meeting Friday agreed to revise the land-use ordinance, agreeing by a 197-98 margin to make changes that town officials believe bring the ordinance up to current state standards.

Grinnell’s father, Donald B. Grinnell, was presented with the Spirit of America Unsung Hero Award recognizing 55 years of service to the Washington Fire Department.

“He’s still an active member at age 80,” the younger Grinnell said.


Voters OK all items except contracting for road services

Voters at Saturday’s town meeting rejected a proposal to contract road services while approving a budget up slightly from last year.

Voters approved all but one of 19 warrant articles, said Selectman David Stanley. The lone rejected question, a citizen-initiated item, would have given selectmen permission to contract for summer road services.

The road commissioner will continue to oversee care of the roads.

Voters taking part in the secret ballot portion of the town meeting on Friday re-elected Arthur Barnett as a selectmen.

When voters reconvened for Saturday’s open meeting they approved a $413,267 municipal budget that is up nearly $12,000 from last year, Stanley said.

Selectmen asked for a $1,000 increase in administration and a 3 percent increase in salaries for all elected officials, which include selectmen, clerk/register, tax collector and code enforcement officer. The town’s fire department requested an additional $2,000 for operational costs.

Selectmen cut the snow removal budget — the town didn’t use as much salt and sand last year — and reduced the amount raised for collecting taxes by $500.

Selectmen also reduced the request for the animal control officer by $200 and increased charitable items by 10 percent.

“The budget passed as presented in its entirety,” Stanley said.


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