The town of Morrill had a total of four openings on the Planning Board at the start of the annual town meeting Saturday, March 16, and since no one volunteered for any of the positions, the town remains in need of residents who are willing to do the job.

After a lengthy discussion about the town’s need for planners and the role the Board has in terms of building projects in town, residents voted to pass over Articles 14 and 15, with Article 14 seeking three Board members for three-year terms and Article 15 aimed at filling an alternate seat on the Board for one year.

Moderator Ed Greeley sought nominations for people  to serve on the Board when he arrived at Article 14, and after some considerable discussion that produced no candidates, Selectman Thomas Flacke said filling those positions could be problematic.

“Our culture in town is changing,” he said. “We don’t have the volunteers.”

Flacke said the Board typically meets four times a year and largely oversees projects such as subdivisions, but would also be a useful component in the process of completing a comprehensive plan. Resident and Tax Collector Roger Rowlands added that the Board would also be responsible for creating new ordinances.

Flacke said the town would likely have to pay a professional about $6,000 to draft a comprehensive plan — something the town has been saving toward — but when asked if the state was pushing for the completion of the plan, Flacke said he didn’t think that would happen any time soon.

“I don’t know what the state is doing,” he said. “… They’re not making a lot of noise; they don’t have the money to make a lot of noise.”

One resident suggested the town expand the role of the Board by giving the body more tasks, such as approving building permits, a job that Flacke said Code Enforcement Officer Bob Temple already carries out for the town.

“If you give the Planning Board something to do, you might get some interest,” said the resident.

There was some discussion among residents regarding the idea of consolidating some of the roles carried out by the code enforcement officer and the Planning Board. Some stated they had paid the town for a building permit and also paid a former code enforcement officer to inspect their projects, but that individual did little more than show up at the site and collect a fee.

Rowlands said he had run into a similar problem in the past, but that Temple did the job well. In the past, Rowlands added, the code enforcement officer did not reside in the county and was very difficult to reach.

Other residents suggested that, since Temple is in charge of granting building permits and conducting the site plan review for all projects, the Planning Board could possibly take up the role of conducting the reviews.

Flacke said selectmen could appoint people to the Board, but quickly added that he would rather see the positions filled by way of an election at town meeting. He further stated that he had asked at least 20 people to serve and so far had found one person who had expressed a willingness to fill one of the seats if necessary.

Article 18, which sought varying amounts to be placed in several reserve accounts, also generated a fair amount of discussion, particularly about how to fund between $200,000 and $300,000 worth of needed repairs on Weymouth Road.

Selectman Randy Place said selectmen need to create a capital plan that would prioritize necessary projects in town, including road repairs, something the Board has yet to complete.

Place said since the state has cut revenue-sharing to municipalities, it would be difficult for the town to come up with the money to do it in the near future without taking out a loan.

“That shot everything down for one more year,” said Place.

Place suggested the town might forgo funding the reserve accounts and apply those funds toward road repairs, but he noted that the longer the project is put on hold the more it would likely cost. In the recent past asphalt cost about $26 per ton, but Selectman Keith Thompson said that cost has since shot up to the $95-per-ton range.

Flacke said when the town paved the triangle-shaped portion of paved area in front of the community building, which measures about 50 feet by 50 feet, it cost the town $6,000. Some of the bids for the project, he said, came back as high as $12,000.

“I was flabbergasted,” said Flacke.

In Article 18, residents were asked to place $15,000 in the reserve designated for roads and ways, but one resident proposed an amendment that would have taken the $1,000 request for the comprehensive plan, $5,000 from the road equipment fund and another $5,000 from the community building reserve to bring the road reserve up to $26,000.

After some considerable discussion, the amendment failed, but Place encouraged residents to come to selectmen with thoughts on how to address the issue of road repair in the near future.

In other news, residents re-elected Place to the second selectman’s seat, returned Town Clerk Melinda Rowlands to her position, and elected Kelly McGray of Waldo to serve as the new animal control officer. McGray won that two-way race against the town’s previous animal control officer, Sandra Peeler, by a margin of 27-12.