FARMINGDALE — Some residents at a public hearing Wednesday night told the selectmen the roads last winter were the worst they’ve ever seen, while others said they had no problems driving during the winter.

Nothing was decided at the public hearing held to give residents a chance to voice concerns about the plowing contract and to ask the town attorney questions about the contract.

The only idea residents seemed to agree on is that the Board of Selectmen should find a way to do a better job at assessing the performance of the snowplowing contractor next winter.

“Let’s move on. This is getting old. If the contractor did something wrong, let’s address it,” said David Cyr, of Sheldon Street. “Otherwise, why are we paying our town attorney to be here? Why are we paying our constable to be here for a meeting that doesn’t make sense?”

Cyr said he didn’t have any problem driving up his street last winter, but he said he was angry with the board for not ensuring the road commissioner was checking on the performance of the contractor.

“It’s a total failure from the top down. If there’s a problem with the contractor, it’s the board’s responsibility,” he said.

The board awarded the three-year, $487,500 contract to the lowest bidder, Ellis Construction, nearly a year ago, but the plowing contract has stayed a constant topic of discussion at board meetings through the winter and long after last winter’s snow melted.

A handful of residents who frequently complain about the contractor have brought up issues ranging from whether the town should have paid for extra work to whether the contractor had the right equipment.

Following the hour-and-a-half public hearing, the board went into executive session to discuss the issue with the town attorney. There didn’t appear to be any desire to pursue legal action regarding the performance of the plowing contractor.

The most recent issue was receipts for liquid calcium chloride the contractor submitted to the town.

The slips had blacked-out sections and handwritten notes showing amounts of calcium chloride and dates. Some residents have said they think that meant the contractor was trying to defraud the town. Chris Ellis, an owner of Ellis Construction, has said those receipts were just copies of one receipt for 2,500 gallons of the brine, submitted to show when the material was moved from a storage tank to the trucks.

However, the board members said they were still concerned that it appears the contractor didn’t use the required amount of liquid calcium chloride. The contract says all material spread on town should be pre-wetted with the brine, but Ellis said his drivers didn’t always use the calcium chloride based on advice from Maine Department of Transportation’s Maine Local Roads Center. The state doesn’t recommend using it on lower-speed or back roads.

Ellis was invited by the town to Wednesday’s meeting, but he told the Kennebec Journal earlier that he wouldn’t attend because all the issues already had been discussed.

Board members said they would like to have a plan in place by the end of August for how the town will be assessing contractor next winter.

Board Chairman David Sirois, who said he opposed meeting with the attorney, estimated before the meeting that paying for the town attorney to be present would cost the town around $300 to $400.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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