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Town and Village

Highway Dept. could see more money

PUTNEY—If the town’s highway budget passes at March’s Town Meeting, Putney will get a new full-time employee and a new excavator.

During the Selectboard’s work sessions with Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard to work on next year’s municipal budget, Stoddard mentioned “two new things this year” in the highway section.

If this budget is approved at Town Meeting, the highway portion will go up by 3 percent, Stoddard said.

Plans are to add a sixth worker to the highway department. This entry-level position will average 30 hours with the department.

The position’s remaining 10 hours of work per week, coming from the general fund budget, will be spent on building maintenance, mowing, and shoveling snow, Stoddard said. The position will come with health insurance benefits.

She noted this new position eliminates the on-call plow person and will reduce maintenance costs for mowing town properties.

Another proposal is to enter into a 10-year lease on an excavator, which the town will own at the end of the lease term. The total cost of the machine is $170,000, and is expected to reduce the “contracted services” budget line item.

“We have some really talented equipment operators on our staff,” Stoddard said. If the town had its own excavator, town employees could use it to more efficiently maintain the roads.

If the proposal is voted down at Town Meeting, the $17,000 for this year’s budget will go back into “contracted services,” she said, noting, “It’s basically a wash as far as the budget is concerned, but it’s a big purchase.”

Stoddard said she tried negotiating a plan to co-own the excavator with Westminster, but was unsuccessful because the two towns’ needs were different.

“We’re hoping to work with another town because it’s a big piece of equipment that mostly sits around and could be easily scheduled to share,” Stoddard said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #388 (Wednesday, December 21, 2016). This story appeared on page B4.

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