PARKMAN — Approval was given to the Parkman Board of Selectmen Wednesday to investigate the costs of new, used, and leased road-maintenance equipment.
The selectmen also will investigate the costs associated with changing to a town-manager form of government.
The selectmen plan to report to residents of the town later this summer with project costs involving any change. Should it be feasible for the town to purchase its own equipment, or should residents favor a change in town government, residents would have to give their approval at a town meeting.
About 30 people attended an informational meeting to discuss whether the town should purchase its own road-maintenance equipment Wednesday.
About five years ago, Parkman residents discussed the same issue, but chose to continue to contract with a private firm.
David Kain, the current contractor with the town, said he planned to sell his equipment and offered it to the town for about $100,000. He said the town could purchase all or part of the equipment. He also offered to lease the use of his garage to the town.
From figures that he compiled, Selectman Merrill Bridges said the town expended $35,607 for just the rental of equipment last year. He suggested that the town should consider seriously the purchase of its own equipment.
He estimated that the town could operate on 40 percent of the contracting costs with 60 percent applied to the purchase costs.
Residents quizzed the selectmen about everything from where town equipment would be stored, the costs associated with insurance, the differences in the cost of new vehicles vs. used and leased vehicles, and the cost of operators, to who would perform the maintenance on the vehicles.
“How much is it going to cost out of my pocketbook, and how much is it going to cost out of your pocketbooks?” asked Elizabeth Morin.
“I personally don’t think we should look for equipment that’s dirt-cheap,” Bridges said, because of the possible maintenance problems with older vehicles. If the town purchased its own vehicles the town most likely would be in better shape than it is now, he said.
“If I thought it would cost us more, I would never have proposed it. I’m convinced we’re going to see a gain,” he said.
Some residents agreed that if the town did purchase its own equipment, a town manager would need to be hired to replace the road commissioner.
The town now is governed by a three-member Board of Selectmen and a road commissioner.
Asked what equipment the town now owns, Bridges answered a rock rake, a brush cutter and miscellaneous tools. The only town-owned land is the solid-waste disposal site.
First Selectman Clifford Morin said he believed the town should look for equipment for summer road maintenance first, and continue with the current contractor for winter road maintenance.
The town has a four-year contract with a private firm and the possibility of extending the contract for another three years exists.