Knox residents vote to limit scope of town office work

By Dan West | Mar 19, 2014
Photo by: Dan West Hans Schmidt, center, was one of around 30 Knox residents to attend the 2014 town meeting.

Knox — Around 30 residents met March 15 in the Knox Town Office for their annual town meeting and moved through the 32-article warrant in around an hour and forty-five minutes.

Article 7 asked whether the town would allow selectmen "to pursue the addition and upgrade of the existing town office building." Once the selectmen developed a plan for the upgrade they would have to return to the voters at a special town meeting to authorize spending money to do the upgrade work.

Selectman Galen Larrabee explained that the town had received a $10,000 grant from a private citizen to go toward a project that would benefit the entire town. Larrabee said the donor was a retired businessman who wanted to give back to the communities he had done business in.

Larrabee said the selectmen decided an upgrade to the existing town building would benefit everyone in town, by increasing the size of the town's safe and expanding the meeting space. He said the town was only at the beginning stages of planning for the potential upgrade.

Basil Wentworth questioned why the town needed an expanded office, when he felt the current office could provide all the space they needed. Wentworth pointed to several under-utilized areas within the existing building that could be renovated to provide the additional meeting space Larrabee had mentioned.

Wentworth further stated that in talking to the current and former town clerks he felt an upgrade of the town's computer system would be of great benefit and would not cost more than the $10,000 the town was given. Wentworth said an expansion of the building would cost significantly more than the $10,000 grant.

"This gift is supposed to benefit the town, but a loan is a burden on the town," Wentworth said. "This building is more than adequate to take care of the town for the next 20 years. We should be modernizing our computers instead."

Wentworth made an amendment to the original article to limit the selectman to a budget of no more than $10,000 for a potential addition and upgrade of the town office, which passed. Another resident also made a motion to amend the article to have the selectmen investigate other uses for the money other than the town office, which also passed.

There was some discussion about the amount of salt and sand used on the town's roads over the winter. Larrabee said the town had used 5,500 yards of sand this winter, where they were budgeting for 4,000 yards for next year. One resident suggested the town's plowing contractor was over-sanding the roads. Larrabee said that the plow contract was in its first year and that the harsh winter may have accounted for the higher than usual sand use.

There were two motions to amend the recommended rate of interest charged on unpaid property taxes. The first would have lowered the interest rate from the recommended 7-percent to 6-percent, which failed to received a second. The second amendment was to lower the rate to 3.5-percent, which was seconded, but defeated by the voters. The 7-percent interest rate was passed as recommended.

Article 5 recommended the town raise $9,000 and appropriate $2,000 for the care of town cemeteries. Larrabee made a motion that the town raise $10,000 and appropriate $1,000, which passed. Larrabee said the town would be using the money to install chain around several town cemeteries.

Voters approved all other budget articles as recommended and elected Will Ingraham as third selectman.

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