BENTON — A small group of voters approved supplemental funding for town roads Thursday night after road commissioner Albert Giroux went over his budget for the year.

Fewer than 20 residents attended the special town meeting to approve taking $30,000 from excise taxes to pay off the balance of a culvert project and fund emergency repairs until the end of the calendar year.

Excise taxes are paid when people register vehicles with the town, and selectmen say the supplemental funding will not affect the tax rate or be taken out of the town’s general fund.

Giroux, who was elected road commissioner in March, went over budget on the town accounts for roads including $55,000 for summer road maintenance and $123,000 for paving.

Speaking to voters on Thursday, Giroux said the money was spent taking care of problems such as clogged culverts that hadn’t been addressed in years.

“The roads have been neglected in the past,” Giroux said. Maintenance of culverts and ditches, which usually costs $2,500 a year, cost about $10,000 because it hadn’t been done for five years, he added. Without the work, there is a good chance many of the culverts would have had to be replaced, he said. Giroux also said that even though some disagreed with his hiring an assistant, working on the roads without someone else was a workplace safety violation and he did not feel safe doing it.

The replacement of a 5-foot culvert on Richards Road was another expensive, unbudgeted project, Giroux said.

According to Rick Lawrence, the town treasurer, $16,000 still is owed on the culvert replacement project. That amount will be taken out of the excise tax transfer approved Thursday, with the remaining $14,000 to be used only for emergency repairs.

Giroux told voters no other maintenance projects are scheduled for the rest of the year.

This year’s funding shortfall is a sign of things to come, Giroux added. Benton’s road infrastructure hasn’t been maintained well, he said, crumbling manholes and culverts threaten to collapse parts of the road, and old trees along the roadway need to be taken down before they fall over.

“Next year, it is going to be bad too,” Giroux said. “Everything is falling apart.”

Giroux has put in a $400,000 road budget request for next year to deal with the problems he sees on the town roads.

“If we don’t take care of things that need to be taken care of, something is going to happen. Someone is going to get hurt,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting, First Selectmen Dan Chamberlain said although he wasn’t sure how much excise tax money the town had on hand, he was sure it was enough to cover the $30,000 expense.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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