Vassalboro Budget Committee members spent most of their March 12 meeting talking with Public Works Foreman Eugene Field about his 2020-21 plans and budget request, a major piece of the annual municipal budget.
Also considered was a request from the Vassalboro Historical Society for the usual $2,500 appropriation plus $5,000 toward a $45,000 metal storage building to be set behind the barn on the Main Street property formerly owned by Betty Taylor.
An email from society president Janice Clowes said the building will be used to house and display “large items from Vassalboro,” like wagons and farm and boating equipment.
Committee members talked again about major culvert projects (see The Town Line, March 12) on Gray and Cross Hill roads. Field listed several other culverts that will need replacement soon and explained that if fish or other wildlife live in the brooks running through them, environmental regulations will require extensive work.
Selectman John Melrose, point man on the culverts because of his former job as state Commissioner of Transportation, said engineer Jim Foster helped Vassalboro get a grant to pay part of the estimated cost of the Cross Hill Road culvert. Melrose suggested the town crew do some of the work; Field protested mildly that the time would need to be taken from other summer work.
The Gray Road project started, on state requirements, as a 30-foot bridge replacing the current six-foot pipe, and has been reduced somewhat in size and cost. As of March 12, Melrose said, the state departments of transportation and environmental protection disagreed about how to proceed and the Selectboard had authorized hiring an engineer to create a plan both would accept. Melrose said the Army Corps of Engineers’ approval is also needed.
Discussion included a suggestion to do Cross Hill in 2020 and postpone the more complicated Gray Road project, and ideas for financing the Gray Road work.
Field outlined paving plans, saying in current global financial conditions he expects the cost of paving materials will be lower than expected a month ago. Melrose pointed out that after several years when few roads were paved or repaved, Vassalboro is beginning to catch up on needed work.
Field asked for higher wages for the public works crew than recommended by Town Manager Mary Sabins. He presented hourly rates for employees doing comparable work in area towns as the basis for his request.
Budget committee members made no decisions on spending recommendations. They canceled their March 24 joint meeting with the school board, because, Chairman Rick Denico said, school officials notified him they will not be ready.
Sabins reported March 16 that the selectmen’s and budget committee meetings scheduled for Thursday, March 19, were both cancelled. As of March 16, selectmen planned to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 2. A March 31 budget committee meeting with the school board, requested by the latter, was not confirmed.
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