BINGHAM — Voters at the annual Town Meeting Monday night agreed to increase the appropriation for snow removal this year by 50 percent, but it may be the final year of business as usual when it comes to snow plowing in Bingham.

First Selectman Steven Stewart said some of the increase in spending in the budget is in the projected cost of the snow removal contract with the town plowing contractor, which would increase from $80,000 in 2014 to $120,000 in 2015.

The contractor — Kennedy Construction of Pleasant Ridge Plantation — has informed town officials that this winter will be his last one plowing Bingham’s estimated 22 miles of road.

“He didn’t have a good year last year, and he didn’t have a good year this year,” Stewart told more than 20 residents at Town Meeting. “We may have to buy our own equipment and do it ourselves.”

Stewart said a plow truck alone would cost upwards of $150,000. The town would also need a wheeler and other costly equipment to do their own winter roads. He said the $120,000 might entice another company to give it a try next winter, but town officials will have their work cut out finding a replacement crew.

The total public works budget, including summer roads, back roads, sidewalks and mowing, was increased Monday night from $134,800 to $150,900, with nearly $50,000 transferred from surplus and from state road assistance, according to the meeting warrant.

The amount of money to be raised from taxation went from $640,843 in 2014 to $663,876, with all of the money articles passing as written.

The current tax rate is $21 for every $1,000 worth of assessed property value.

Running unopposed on the election ballot this year was incumbent Stewart, who will serve another three-year term as selectman, assessor and overseer of the poor. Leo Hill and Brian Malloy were returned to the School Administrative District 13 board of directors for three-year terms.

Nancy MacDonald, who was appointed last fall to fill the seat on the school board vacated by Ray Francoeur, who stepped down for health-related reasons, was elected to a one-year term on the board.

Town Office employees, including the three selectmen, the tax collector, the town clerk and the treasurer, all received a 3 percent pay increase in voting Monday. The total cost of town government increased from $138,761 in 2014 to $141,355 in other Town Meeting voting.

Residents also approved a slightly larger public safety budget with small raises for the Fire Department and the ambulance service. The cost of street lighting is up from $24,500 to $27,000.

Funding for nonlocal organizations on the Town Meeting warrant this year includes just four recipients to keep the level of spending the same as it was last year. The recipients are the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, $400; Senior Spectrum, $500; the American Red Cross, $295; and hospice, $500.

With $5,000 approved by voters for the Upper Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, one resident, Barbara Glunn, suggested the Chamber take down its sign until improvements can be made to the building that houses the organization. Glunn said the building didn’t put on the best face for visitors to the town of Bingham.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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