PALERMO — Voters chose to spend $180,000 — the higher of two recommended figures — to pave town roads, despite concerns that state money usually relied upon to help offset such costs might not be coming this year.

Selectmen had recommended unanimously spending only $150,000 for paving, down from the $200,000 appropriated last year.

However, residents sided with the Budget Committee’s split recommendation, to spend $180,000, citing fear that if the town gets too far behind on paving, it will cost more in the long run to catch up again.

Road Commissioner Scott Childs said the town has been working to catch up on paving roads that have been neglected in the past, including some that haven’t been paved in more than 20 years. He said a paving company estimated it would cost $200,000 to pave all the roads he had wanted to pave this year.

“I can see cutting back by $20,000, but if we cut back to $150,000, we’re going to be losing a lot of ground,” Childs said.

Blake Brown said if people don’t want to spend money on roads, they shouldn’t complain about the quality of them.

Resident David Parkman argued for spending only $150,000 on paving, partly out of concern about a proposal in Gov. Paul LePage’s budget to eliminate revenue sharing funds the state usually distributes to towns. Officials said that could cost Palermo about $75,000. Parkman said the paving budget is large enough so the town — bracing for the possible $75,000 reduction in state money — could trim it but still retain a paving program.

“This is the only article you can make that kind of money on,” Parkman said. “This is where we can lower our property taxes, right here.”

Selectman Holly Harmon said if townspeople felt the benefits of spending more on paving outweighs the cost, that’s what the town would do.

Voters agreed to increase funding for municipal wages, which include the town’s share of federal taxes, from $75,000 to $77,300, at the recommendation of Selectman Harry Dean Potter.

“After this item was voted on (by selectmen), we had an unanticipated memo from the IRS, and we apparently owe some taxes, back from 2009,” Potter said. “We’d like to amend this article so we don’t come up short for the year.”

Voters also agreed to appropriate $15,000 that the Withdrawal Committee was previously authorized to spend to help initiate the process of withdrawing Palermo from Regional School Unit 12.

“It’s mostly to pay for legal advice, because this is going to be a big mess,” said Dick Reitchel, a resident involved in the withdrawal process.

The meeting started at 9 a.m.; stopped just before noon for lunch, which was a hot, home-cooked dinner prepared by Branch Mills Grange members; then reconvened until the town’s business was competed.

 

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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