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Gill highway truck money measure fails by 1 vote

GILL — Residents nixed borrowing for a new Highway Department truck by a single vote.

Town Clerk Lynda Hodsdon Mayo said 77 voters turned out for Tuesday’s debt exclusion election, 7 percent of the voting population, and voted the question down 39-38.

“I’ll bet there’s a lot of people thinking they could have made a difference if they showed up,” Hodsdon Mayo said.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the $155,000 purchase at this spring’s annual town meeting, with one dissenting vote and no discussion. The appropriation was contingent on approval of a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion.

The new truck would have replaced a 23-year-old Ford plowing and sanding the town’s hilly roads in the Highway Department’s fleet of three large dump trucks.

“I expect we’ll do what we can to keep it on the road and useful and safe, within the bounds of what makes economic sense for repairs,” said town Administrative Assistant Ray Purington.

“We’ll step back and regroup and try and decide what our needs are, what’s the best way to meet those needs,” he said.

Purington said the Selectboard will need to discuss next steps at their next meeting, Sept. 23.

Debt exclusion elections can sometimes be repeated, he said, but there is a time limit within which a debt exclusion for a vote made at town meeting must be approved, and that period ends Sunday, leaving no time for the required legal notices.

The purchase would have added approximately 23 cents to the tax rate and cost the average single-family homeowner $46.30 per year for five years, but Purington said much of the impact would have been absorbed as the new purchase would have coincided with the end of payments for the last truck purchase, leaving a net increase of $6.85 on the average bill.

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