ST. ALBANS — Road Commissioner Ronnie Finson didn’t have time to celebrate his twin victories at the annual Town Meeting on Saturday — he was out plowing snow and sanding roads, just as he has done for the last 27 years.

In elections on Friday, Finson beat challenger Brandy Snowman for a one-year term, 172-91.

In a ballot referendum, St. Albans residents issued a resounding “no” to a proposal to change the position of road commissioner from an elective one to an appointive one. The vote was 204-50.

In a four-hour-plus annual Town Meeting on Saturday, voters hammered out a spending package for 2012 that came in at $818,412 — about $3,000 less than had been proposed on the town meeting warrant. Last year’s budget was $828,087.

The tax rate should stay about the same, at $18.20 for every $1,000 in property valuation.

About 70 voters dickered about everything Saturday from buying a used truck to fixing an old bridge to paying more than $10,000 to take down a 100-foot tree in the town cemetery.

In a 42-29 vote, residents defeated a move to take up to $70,000 from a Fire Department reserve account to buy a lot on Todds Corner Road as a possible future site for a fire station and other town operations.

Selectmen had not supported the idea. Former Fire Chief David Crocker said the location of the land would add a mile in response time for firefighters and leave many residents suddenly more than five miles from fire station, possibly causing the home insurance rates to increase.

Voters also said “no” to borrowing up to $105,000 for the purchase of a town truck, saying town workers could spend more time doing maintenance on the trucks the town already has.

“This town is ridiculous when it comes to equipment,” resident Bonny Lawrence said.

Former Town Manager Larry Post disagreed, noting that maintenance on town trucks has allowed the town to keep trucks on the road for 20 to 25 years.

The final vote was close, 24-23.

Voters did approve borrowing up to $60,000 for repairs or replacement of a culvert at Indian Bridge on Ripley Road. The project’s total cost is estimated to be $83,000, but Town Manager Rhonda Stark said the town has a reserve account to cover some of the remainder of the cost.

“The (Department of Transportation) said the bridge is in serious condition and might fail when the frost comes out of the ground,” Stark said.

Residents also approved two proposals on the Town Meeting warrant to shift some funds to help pay for the work on the bridge.

Big-ticket items approved Saturday for the coming year included $47,655 for fire protection, $150,000 for town administration, $76,655 for town insurance, $268,196 for the Highway Department and $81,885 for solid waste and recycling.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

 

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