MONROE — A few dozen Monroe residents passed all Town Warrant items at the June 6 annual meeting, with only a brief discussion on a new three-year plowing contract with JAB Paving LLC.

One resident, identified after the meeting as Matt Brown by Select Board Member Rick Hillman, claimed that the town of Knox had fired the company previously and he had concerns about the town entering into a plow contract with it.

Brad Aitken refutes that claim; he owns JAB Paving with a business partner. He did have a plow contract with the town of Knox several years ago with his company, Brad Aitken and Sons Trucking, of which he and his wife are the sole owners, he said, but that contract was not associated with JAB Paving, which was established in 2021.

Knox Select Board Member Galan Larrabee told the Republican Journal that Aitken’s previous company was not fired from plowing the town’s roads when it had a plow contract about four years ago. He said the town and Aitken both agreed not to renew the contract after it expired, calling the decision “a mutual separation, more than anything.”

Larrabee said sometimes there was only one person plowing the roads during snowstorms when there should have been two and Aitken was not always in the area during snowstorms to address issues. Though there were issues at times, the town did not fire the company or end the contract before it had expired, he said.

Aitken said it was his first plow contract and he was moving to Florida around the time that contract ended. The two companies he owns and co-owns now are much better established and have more financial backing than when he had the Knox plowing contract. His current plowing crew is very experienced and has plowed roads for years with other companies, he said.

JAB Paving disclosed information to the Monroe Select Board on who would be plowing roads and what equipment would be used, Hillman said at the meeting.

The company’s bid was the lower of the two plow bids the town received by about $75,000, Hillman told The Republican Journal in an interview after the meeting. The other bid was from Matt Brown’s brother Wade Brown with Guy Hanson and Son Construction, which held the plow contract for the last five years.

Towns usually sign a three-year contract with plow companies with an option to extend the contract another for two years, but towns need to put the contract out to bid at least every five years, Hillman said. Overall, Hillman said JAB Paving’s bid was about $200,000 less over the next three years than the bid submitted by Brown.

During the meeting, one resident asked the Select Board if the roads would be plowed better this year. Another resident suggested at the meeting that the town only enter into a one-year contract and then extend that contract if residents like how the roads are plowed this year.

Select Board Member Jacki Robbins said in a reply to that suggestion that companies invest too much equipment into plowing jobs to enter into a one-year contract. Three years is the most common length of time for plowing contracts.

“It’s traditional that all towns at least, or most towns at least do a three-year contract … because you’re asking people to have a lot of equipment up front and if something happens at the end of the year — you know,” she said.

The Warrant article passed with some residents voting in opposition. If residents have a complaint about unsatisfactory road conditions they should contact the Select Board instead of only complaining on Facebook, Robbins said.

Voters approved more than a $100,000 increase in spending on winter roads at the meeting this year, for a total $350,000 approved, up from last year’s $241,000 allocation. Hillman said the increase is because of plowing and sand and salt costs.

The overall approved town budget increased by 12.9%, up to $835,361 from the $739,529 approved last year. Residents voted to raise $811,411 of that through taxation, a 16.8% increase compared to the $694,925 raised last year. Residents approved $23,950 in surplus to go toward the overall budget.

Joseph Isgroe was elected to a three-year Select Board position, replacing outgoing Select Board member Jacki Robbins, who received a standing ovation from residents at the end of the meeting for her work over the years as a town official. Robbins was reelected to a three-year assessor term. Drew Pickering was elected to the Planning Board. Ashlie Stubbs and Allison Felton were elected to the town’s Recreation Committee.