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Wakefield considers backhoe for highway department

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
July 04, 2012
WAKEFIELD — Road Agent Fred Clough met with selectmen at their June 27 meeting to discuss the merits of acquiring a backhoe for the Wakefield Highway Department.

Clough, who was appointed Road Agent following the retirement of Dan Davis this spring, said he has been reviewing highway department equipment and feels it would be beneficial to have a machine smaller than the department's excavator that could also serve as a backup for the frontend loader. "The 590 excavator is a big machine," he said, and needs to be hauled from site to site. A backhoe a little bigger than the one at the transfer station could take care of a lot of work, make its own way to a job site and also provide a bucket when needed.

He said he was looking at a new Terex 870 backhoe for $83,000 or a 2006 Terex 760 used for rental that is available for $49,000.

Town Administrator Teresa Williams said capital reserve funds can only be used for new equipment. She added that there is currently $103,000 in the equipment capital reserve.

Clough said he was willing to consider Case or John Deere backhoes but preferred the Terex 870. He said it comes with a one-year warranty but you can add 48 months to it for $5,000.

Selectman Chair Ken Paul said acquiring piece of equipment like that should be part of a capital reserve plan that you budget.

Selectman Peter Kasprzyk suggested using the backhoe at the transfer station for 2-3 days a week on the upcoming Brackett Road project. He said the board should ask Transfer Station Manager Warren Winn how much a cardboard compactor would cost. Currently a major use for the backhoe at the transfer station is to crush down the cardboard/paper dumpster. If the station had a compactor, the backhoe could go to the highway department. There is also a skidsteer at the transfer station for moving things around.

Clough responded that the Brackett Road project won't start until the fall. He said each of the three catch basins will take five days to install. "The excavator is too big for that work," he said.

Paul thanked Clough for bringing the proposal to the board but said that a new backhoe purchase would nearly wipe out the capital reserve. He asked Clough to get other numbers for later consideration and talk to Winn about using the transfer station backhoe in the fall.

Cemetery issues

Cemetery Trustees Dave Tibbetts and Phil Twombley met with selectmen to discuss how to get a bill paid for work done in 2009 by Fred Elliott.

They noted that the Alden Young Trust gave the town a check for $1,590.11 for two years' worth of interest on cemetery upkeep funds and, despite the fact that the check said the funds were for cemetery upkeep, the check went into the town's general fund. In the meantime Elliott has been owed $1,500 since 2010, when he submitted his bill. The trustees said they had spoken with Terry Knowles, the state's Assistant Director of Charitable Trusts, and she said the funds had to be used for cemeteries, not to reduce taxes.

Williams said that the problem is that Nancy Spencer Smith who manages the trust sent the payment to the town. At the time the work was done they was not enough money in the account to pay Elliott directly. There is $3,300 in the cemetery miscellaneous budget, so there is money available to pay the bill but the bill needs to be dated in the current year.

Selectman Charlie Edwards asked why the money went into the general fund and not into a cemetery fund. Williams replied that the cemetery trustees currently do not have a revolving fund where monies can be paid into directly and bills paid out of that fund.

Elliott, who was present, said he feels he is stuck in the middle on this matter. He works for Nancy Spencer Smith on a daily basis but is owed the money and has not charged interest on it.

Dave Mankus spoke from the audience saying he has been a sexton for a long time. The cemetery trustees did not have any money, he saide, because the trust did not pay anything for five years. The procedure in effect at the time was that you did work for the trust and billed the trust. Before the town took over themoney went to the Lovell Lake Association and the Association paid the contractors directly.

Kasprzyk asked if the bill could be paid if Elliott submits it again with a 2012 date for the earlier work.

Willliams said a new bill was Ok but that selectmen have to approve payment because the cemetery trustees did not have minutes authorizing the work Elliott did.

The board voted unanimously to pay the bill once it is resubmitted.

During public comment Elliott advised selectmen that once budget season comes the town needs to recognize that "Lovell Lake Cemetery is in tough shape." He said it needs to be treated with lime and fertilizer and there should be a budget for wall maintenance. "Selectmen need to sit down with the cemetery trustees to provide them some flexibility and not be so tight," he said. When Lovell Lake Cemetery was taken over interest earned was much higher than it is now and, as a result, funds paid for perpetual care do not cover costs.

Kasprzyk agreed there is no grass cover in parts of the cemetery.

Mankus said the town needs to develop a plan for the new cemetery to generate $180,000, which will fund the opening of the next section. He suggested putting up a sign identifying available lots at $600 each.

Kasprzyk said he advocates putting more money into the trust fund so that the interest does cover the maintenance.

Relf Fogg said he had measured the rock wall at the new cemetery and said he is willing to rebuild the 865 feet at no cost to the town, a $24,000 value.

Mankus said the wall currently is too close to the road and should be moved back.

The board also discussed Town Hall hours and other issues. Please see accompanying article.

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