Voters chose not to take several financial detours at the Eden town meeting on Tuesday, even though they were invited to.
Voters easily approved a town budget of $1,045,297, up 2.8 percent from the prior budget.
They also approved $23,000 to support town organizations, including the after-school program, Eden Cemetery, Eden Historical Society, Eden Youth Sports, LERA Swim Program and the Lake Eden Association Greeter Program. The total was almost 7 percent higher than the previous year.
That generous mood extended to other regional agencies to the tune of $12, 431, an increase of 6.4 percent from last year.
First, though, some detours were offered.
One voter proposed approving all the requests for money except for the North Country Animal League. That motion was not seconded.
Then, Warren Whitcomb III proposed cutting all appropriations by 10 percent, and his son Takoda Whitcomb seconded the motion. A voice vote was too close to call, so a ballot vote was held, and Whitcomb’s motion was defeated.
Whitcomb then proposed that the requests be raised by 10 percent, again seconded by his son. Again, the motion was voted down and the article passed as presented.
Later on, Ed Debor proposed cutting the highway budget by $10,000, but after a ballot vote, the article passed as presented.
A few residents voiced concerns about how road maintenance has been less reliable than in past years, back before Ricky Morin was road commissioner.
Morin had a ready reply: “If you don’t think you’re getting a deal with the machine by the hour when you’re paying me, then you need to hire somebody else to do it.”
Most people who spoke on the issue defended Morin and his work.
In town elections, Butch Whitmore was elected to succeed Adam Degree on the select board; Degree did not run again.
Tracy Morin will succeed Carolyn Shields as the town auditor, and Matt Hill was elected second constable.
Then came open discussions of town matters, and residents focused on maintenance of private roads.
Leslie White talked about the 10 percent property-tax reduction that residents of private roads receive, and the increasing number of private roads. That led to a conversation about general road maintenance in town.
Sue Fitzgerald pointed to Backshore Road and the damage done by last year’s Halloween storm, asserting that the town needs to figure out a way to help the residents on that road more quickly.
Voters spoke for and against the idea of having the town take over maintenance of those private roads.
Road Commissioner Ricky Morin pointed out that, for insurance reasons, the town government is not allowed to maintain private roads.
Many people spoke in favor of helping; others politely disagreed.
“Give a hand to the nice people who live on these roads,” said David Whitcomb.
A brief discussion about health insurance and price over value took place when Wendy Lane asked about the decision-making process for picking insurance plans for the town government. Barbara Dewyea replied that, despite the slightly higher cost, the plans were chosen based on their quality.