By Kirstan Knowlton
GORHAM — Selectmen reviewed suggestions from the town manager regarding budget cuts and plans to move ahead on road repairs. Reductions to the budget were approved and selectmen voted to make a contribution to the Road Resurfacing and Reconstruction Capital Reserve Fund.
The original warrant article for engineering costs covered 14 streets, but would cost the town $415,000. Due to budget constraints changes were made to appropriate $200,000 to the Road Resurfacing and Reconstruction Capital Reserve Fund instead.
The current balance in the Road Resurfacing and Reconstruction Capital Reserve Fund has slightly over $10,000. By allocating money to the existing reserve fund, there would be more flexibility on how the money can be used for road repairs.
The board also discussed options for road repairs including only repairing stretches of road rather than tearing up entire sections to be rebuilt. This option would likely save money on unnecessary road repairs.
“You don’t have to dig the entire road up, if there is a section that can be saved they should be left alone,” said resident Glen Eastman.
Public Works Director Austin Holmes plans to meet with the engineer to discuss repair plans for the roads. Both Cascade Flats and Stony Brook are still high on the priority list.
Police Chief PJ Cyr suggested that the town consider forming a committee to discuss road repairs and formulate a plan. Cyr referenced the success of the Public Safety Organizational Review committee, and thought that a similar model might be beneficial.
Selectmen backed Cyr’s idea of a committee, although they said it would have to be spear headed by the planning board.
Along with significant cuts to the road funding, cuts were also made to various Capital Reserve Funds including the ambulance, dispatch, police, fire, highway and town building purchase and repairs. All of these reductions total $308,000 or an estimated $1.15 per thousand on the tax rate.
The public budget hearing will be held this evening starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Medallion Opera House.
Selectmen will also be meeting on Monday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. and a public hearing to address concerns about the merger between fire and EMS will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m.