Disappearing gasoline prompts Andover to buy tracking device
Andover voters turned out last week to consider raising money to pay for a leaking fuel tank and buy a fire truck.
But most of the discussion ended up being about keeping track of the use of gasoline by town employees.
About 80 people attended last Thursday’s special town meeting, which was called initially to deal with the aftermath of a leaking oil tank at the town garage.
The Department of Environmental Protection did the cleanup, and voters were asked to raise $12,000 to pay its share of that as well as buy and install replacement tanks and other items needed to ensure compliance with the state’s mandated spill prevention plan.
When the time came to make the motion, selectboard Chair Susan Merrow moved to amend the amount to $16,000 to add extra funds to more easily monitor which town departments are getting gas.
The departments include Highway, Fire and Transfer Station.
Road Commissioner Marshall Meisner objected.
“We scraped to the bare bones to get this $12,000 and I think this extra money is frivolous,” he said. “The only other departmetn that uses gas is the Transfer Station. If we want to do this, I think the money should come from the Transfer Station budget.”
Wayne Delano also questioned the move.
“If we can’t keep track of these three outfits I think we’ve got some serious problems,” he said.
Replied Kevin Scott, “We’ve got some awful short memories in this room. It wasn’t more than five years ago when the Budget Committee came across $8,000 or $9,000 in C.N. Brown invoices for gasoline in a town that has gasoline lawnmowers. We have diesel highway trucks and fire trucks, and we’re going through eight or nine thousand dollars worth of gasoline.”
He said the monitoring system would “ensure the taxpayers that their money is going to be looked out for. I don’t think it’s a big burden for someone to push two or three buttons to get their gas.”
Meisner reacted strongly.
“Where the gas went I don’t know. This makes me think that someone’s insinuating that I’m dishonest and I take offense to that. As far as I know there’s nobody dishonest in the Highway Department or Transfer Station.”
Rick Mills favored monitoring.
“This town is crazy if they don’t know where every ounce of their gas is going,” he said.
Fire Chief Rob Dixon said if the system were to be implemented, it should also include the diesel tank.
But Scott said there has never been a concern about the use of diesel fuel.
Merrow said only three identification numbers would likely be needed to track gas use.
The amendment was approved by a 46-26 vote, and voters went on to easily approve the main motion.
Voters then spent about 10 minutes discussing the fire truck proposal, which AFD Assistant Chief Ken Dixon got on the warrant by circulating a petition.
The proposal ws to buy a 1995 ladder truck for $100,000 to replace the town’s 1975 one.
A similar article was defeated at the March annual town meeting, but Dixon said last week he didn’t think the idea had been given “due consideration.”
“I feel strongly it’s an opportunity not to be neglected,” he said.
But as in March, several voters said that with the town’s current process to potentially withdraw from SAD 44 and run its own school system, there is too much financial uncertainty to make such a large purchase now.
The article was overwhelmingly defeated.
Several announcements were also made at the meeting:
At 6 p.m. Sept. 4 an Open House will take place at the Andover Elementary School to meet the new teaching principal;
Members are being sought for a cemetery committee;
The Comprehensive Plan Committee will hold its first meeting in September.