China budget committee endorses select board proposal

by Mary Grow

China Budget Committee members have endorsed the select board’s proposed 2024-25 budget, to be presented to voters at the June 11 annual town business meeting.

At their April 3 meeting, committee members also supported buying a new town truck, at a cost not to exceed $296,715, with a condition and a suggestion.

Twenty-one of the 32 articles on the June 11 warrant need, and have, budget committee recommendations. There were no dissenting votes; on some of the articles, a member abstained, for example to avoid a conflict of interest.

There was almost no discussion except over the truck purchase.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said Director of Public Services Shawn Reed recommends buying a Western Star truck from O’Connor Motors, in Augusta. The recommendation is for a wheeler, rather than a single-axle truck, because the wheeler is more versatile – two budget committee members agreed ­– and costs only $16,000 more.

The purchase price is to come from the equipment reserve and from the 2024-25 budget, if voters approve it on June 11. An older truck will be traded in or sold to make up for a small part of the expenditure.

Commenting on the truck body, the plow gear, the extended warranty, the delivery delay (December 2024 or later) and other factors, Hapgood observed, “It’s hard to believe it’s this hard to buy a vehicle.”

Budget committee members had no objection to the choice; but they made their endorsement conditional on the select board getting at least one more price quote, “just to see what the number might be,” as committee member Timothy Basham said.

Taryn Hotham suggested town officials try negotiating with O’Connor for a better price.


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