CANAAN — Voters approved a roughly $1.1 million budget Saturday morning at the Town Meeting, including raising $25,000 for a snowplow truck purchase and $15,000 for a wheelchair lift at the Farmers Hall.
About 80 voters approved the budget, which is roughly $10,000 more than last year’s town budget, but selectman Dan Harriman said the change in property taxes won’t be known until the town gets the updated school and county budgets.
Most of the conversation focused on whether the town should approve a purchase of a used plow truck or continue to raise money to either buy or lease a new plow truck. Article 11 asked voters to raise an additional $25,000 to be put in a reserve fund for a new plow truck, but at the meeting the Board of Selectmen recommended that the town reject the article and approve a purchase of a used truck using the more than $75,000 now in the reserve fund.
Voters debated the benefit of buying a new truck or a used one, with arguments about the performance and lifespan of a used truck and the cost and feasibility of buying or leasing a new vehicle.
Voters approved Article 11 to put $25,000 into a plow truck fund and gave the board the go-ahead to buy a used truck. The selectmen researched buying a used truck and saw that Vermont auctions off its snowplow trucks after 10 years, according to Harriman, and would cost roughly $25,000. With the approval of Article 11, a little more than $100,000 would be in the reserve fund, which could be used for future purchases.
“We still may decide to buy a new truck at some point in the future,” Harriman said.
Another debate topic was whether voters should raise $15,000 toward the installation of a wheelchair lift at the Canaan Farmers Hall. The building, owned by the Canaan Farmers Hall nonprofit organization since 2011, has been in the town since 1898 and has been used as a banquet hall, community center and multipurpose facility. Advocates for approving the article cited the building’s historical importance to the town and the accessibility problems of its upper levels, while opponents thought it wasn’t the town’s responsibility to raise money for improvements to a building the town doesn’t own.
Joel Stetkis, a Canaan Farmers Hall member, spoke on behalf of several other members who wanted the article rejected, saying it wasn’t an acceptable use of the town’s money. Several town members voiced support for the improvements, saying that the site is the closest thing Canaan has to a community center. Voters ultimately approved the article by a vote of 31-21.
The town also passed an article to raise $50,000 toward the purchase of a new tanker/pumper for the Fire Department. The additional $50,000 would bring the reserve fund for a new tanker/pumper to roughly $225,000. Fire Chief Troy Bowden said the cost of a new tanker/pumper is roughly $268,000.
The Town Meeting lasted a little more than two hours.
On Monday, voters can go to Town Hall and vote for candidates for the three elective offices that are on the ballot. Three candidates — Ray Judkins, Michael Robinson Jr. and incumbent Raymond Small — are running for road commissioner. Selectwoman Rita Graf, School Administration District 54 Director Jean Franklin and Town Clerk Denise Stetkis are running for re-election unopposed.