Speaking prior to the start of the Aug. 22 town meeting, First Selectman Galen Larrabee said the overall budget presented in the warrant was "about the same,” with a 1% increase over last year's numbers and the mill rate now at $20.50 per $1,000 of assessed value from $18.25 last year.

At the outside meeting held in a field next to the Town Office, residents approved spending a total of $680,751 on this year's warrant, including several amendments.

As moderator MaryAnne Kinney, a resident and also state representative (R-Knox), started reading the first article after election results, resident Basil Wentworth objected to the meeting, saying the 30 or so people present did not represent the entire town of Knox.

“Because of the limited participation and because we only have four months left in the calendar year, I make a motion to adjourn this meeting,” he said.

Kinney and Town Clerk Loni-Ann Spaulding assured Wentworth that notices for the meeting were posted eight days prior in several locations around town and the motion to adjourn was defeated by a show of hands.

A debate ensued over whether the town should switch from TRIO municipal accounting software to the new, less costly In Vision software. Larrabee said last year, TRIO raised its prices midway through the year and the town was currently paying around $18,500 for the program, while In Vision will cost $15,600 for the first year, which includes training, and $6,000 a year after that.

Besides the estimated $40,000 savings over five to 10 years, Larrabee said, “TRIO would keep us on hold for hours, just costing us money.”

When asked if the town was already using In Vision software, Larrabee said it was, prompting the question, “Well then, why are we here?”

Wentworth was quick to point out, “They decide what to spend money on (pointing to residents), you don’t.”

When asked why switch when all surrounding towns use TRIO,  Selectman Bruce Grass said 17 other municipalities in the state have switched to In Vision and added that they were just trying to save the town money and that when leasing a program, they did not need to notify the town.

The article ultimately passed.

Residents debated whether to award a three-year plowing contract for $175,000 to the single bidder, Bojames Spaulding, whose previous bid expired in December 2019.

“We had the easiest year of plowing and he wants $50,000 more this year,” one resident said.

The increase, another resident said, is partly because of the condition of the roads. “You can’t expect someone to fix their own vehicles without the roads' being fixed,” she said. “Someone is going to get hurt, and we won’t be able to get anyone to plow…. Unless the town is willing to fix our roads, Spaulding will not lower his prices.”

Larrabee said Brooks is now paying $168,000 for plowing and added the cost of parts and service has “gone out of sight.”

Wentworth added that the town should consider buying its own equipment to plow the roads.

Voters eventually agreed to award the three-year contract to Spaulding and raise or appropriate $181,000 for this year’s snow plowing budget. Also approved was $43,000 for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges. Larrabee said selectmen would place a high priority on Kenney and Weed roads.

An additional $75,000 was approved to replace culverts at the intersection of Kenney and Old County roads, and a six-foot culvert on Bailey Road.

Another article asked residents to allow selectmen to pursue a 15-year, $2 million bond to rebuild and hot-top roads based on recommendations by a state road engineer and bridge engineer.

The idea was a tough sell to residents, who felt the word “pursue” authorized selectmen to borrow $2 million, not just look into the idea and make a plan.

Some residents were against the idea, saying the town should pick one or two roads a year to fix, and tackle the job in that manner, “instead of borrowing a whole bunch of money for 15 years,” as one resident put it.

“Let’s do some work to the impassable ones we’re going to lose completely,” another resident said. “The order of events seems out of place to me.”

Selectman Grass said a state engineer estimated it would cost that much, and added, “it doesn’t cost the townspeople anything for us to pursue bids.” The cost of materials is skyrocketing, he added, and the town is trying to do as many roads as possible in a short time.

One resident countered, saying, “We don’t need someone from the state to dream up something grandiose.”

In the end, it seemed both selectmen and residents wanted the same thing, but the manner in which the article was written did not convey the idea properly.

A resident said, “If you’re going to research it and come back at town meeting in March with a plan, I’m fine with that. This is the number-one issue every year. It’s always very difficult to understand. I’m all for fixing the roads.”

Ultimately the article was amended, adding the words, “Look into and make a plan, with detailed information about needed repairs, cost per road, and to be prepared for the March 2021 town meeting or special town meeting prior,” and striking out "pursue."

One last article that garnered some debate dealt with raising $16,000 for an LED sign to be placed on Town Office property next to Route 137.

A resident said, “The sign we have is junk. For a few hundred dollars you can buy a similar sign.” Another resident added, “If the town is hurting and needs money, if we’re in that bad of shape, I don’t think you need that sign. It’s foolishness.”

Residents voted to amend the article to raise or appropriate up to $750 for a new “arrow” sign to replace the current one.

In election results, William Ingraham was reelected third selectman, road commissioner, assessor and overseer of the poor for another three-year term with 42 votes and two blank. The sale of hard alcohol was defeated by voters, making Knox essentially a dry town, although beer and wine may still be sold in stores.

After just over four hours, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 2 p.m.