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Long-delayed check to pay for Town Office improvements

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Nov 21, 2019
Source: Facebook Morrill's Town Office will get some improvements, thanks to the receipt of long-delayed state reimbursement money.

Morrill — At a special town meeting Nov. 19, residents voted to use almost $49,000 received from the state as reimbursement for its sand shed to pay for improvements to the Town Office, according to Town Clerk Melinda Rowlands.

The money came as a windfall of sorts, Rowlands said, because it was received 23 years late. At the time it built the shed, the town had signed up for a program administered by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection that provided partial reimbursement to towns for the cost of erecting sand and salt sheds. And then the wait began.

According to a page on the DOT website, the LePage administration decided in 2013 to close the program and ordered DOT and DEP to devise a plan for winding it down. In December 2017 it ended, and towns that had applied for the funds and had built their sand/salt sheds were reimbursed in an order of priority established by the state, with towns that had chloride pollution in nearby drinking water wells being reimbursed first. Morrill was among the Priority 5 towns that were the last to receive funds, and thus, more than two decades after its sand shed was built, the town got a check.

The funds will be used to install a fireproof vault in the Town Office, do renovations to create a private meeting space and re-surface the floors, Rowlands said.

Also at the Nov. 19 meeting, residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of changing the positions of clerk, treasurer and tax collector from elected positions to appointed positions, according to Rowlands.

The changes will be effective for the 2020 budget year and will be included with the budget at the regular town meeting. The positions will be appointed by the Board of Selectmen for a term of one year at an hourly rate.

She explained that selectmen decided the change was needed because these jobs now require more computer knowledge and ongoing professional training than in the past, making them semi-professional positions.

Making the three jobs appointed will enable the board to hire the most qualified candidates, even if they live in another town, and also allows for personnel matters to be handled in a more professional way, Rowlands said.

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