HARTLAND — The town’s annual business was dispensed with in record time Saturday as more than 50 voters gathered for the annual town meeting.

Moderator Michael Wiers suggested at one point that the meeting could be completed in 20 minutes if the first 10 minutes was any indication. But a few questions extended the meeting to 35 minutes.

While frustration with some expenses was evident among some voters, the overall municipal budget dropped $37,000 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, to $1.47 million.

Selectman Hadley Buker emphasized the reduction by pointing out that in 2009 there was a negative balance of $486,000 on the town’s books, while in 2012 there was a positive balance of $166,000. He credited Town Manager Susan Frost with that positive balance to a round of applause from voters.

The municipal budget figure does not include the school budget, which will be decided in the coming weeks.

Voters approved a $4,000 expenditure from the cemetery trust fund to complete the restoration started on the Ireland Cemetery by the Hartland Historical Society. The group raised most of the $15,000 fee for the work, and the trust fund money will be used to finish the project.

A new property maintenance ordinance also was approved. The ordinance will provide the town the legal authority to require a property be cleaned up and to set a penalty for failure to comply. Town officials explained that the Code Enforcement Officer would determine when a property is considered unsightly and requires clean-up.

Resident Michael Snowman asked why the town pays $97,000 annually for hydrant rental, or nearly $1 million over 10 years. Fire Chief Tim Kuespert echoed Snowman’s frustration by pointing out his department may have used the hydrants seven times in recent years, and are prevented from using them for anything but emergencies.

Frost explained the decision was made years ago when the town had a choice of owning and maintaining the hydrants or renting their use from the local water department. Once the decision was made there was no changing it, she said.

Resident Myrtle Marble asked why the selectmen were appointed as assessors, while the town annually pays for the services of an assessor. Outgoing Selectman Chris Littlefield explained the board is still responsible for assessing, but not trained and certified to do so, and therefore opts to contract for the service.

In voting for municipal offices, Adam Littlefield was elected Friday in an uncontested race to fill a vacancy on the Board of Selectmen. Barbara Day, Meredith Randlett and write-in candidate Tim Kuespert were elected to three-year terms on the Budget Committee. Suzan Ackerman was re-elected to the RSU 19 Board of Directors.

Fifty-nine voters turned out for the annual election.

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