South Thomaston residents voted down an article to replace a 2003 fire truck with a newer model at the annual town meeting March 26, and approved a nearly $1 million budget.

More than 100 people attended the two hour meeting held at Gilford Butler School.

In a four-way race for a two-year select board term — vacated by Patrick "Mike" Florance — Dianne Darling clinched the seat with 72 votes followed by 42 votes for Wayne Brown, 26 for David Eaton and 16 for Sonja Sleeper.

Dorothy Meriwether was elected to fill Chairman Jeff Northgraves seat as he did not seek re-election. She was unopposed for the seat.

Fire Department Deputy Chief David Elwell said the engine the department was planning to buy cost $450,000. The older model is assessed at $100,000.

The department wanted to take $156,000 from the fire truck reserve account, trade in the 2003 engine, and borrow $193,328 to fund the fleet addition. The newer model would hold more water and carry additional crew, Elwell said.

Some residents expressed concern that the town did not need a new truck, just wanted one.

Also voiced was the concern that with proposed state budget cuts and rising property taxes, the town cannot afford to purchase a new truck.

Northgraves said the article was recommended by the budget committee because in a few more years, the town will need to purchase another truck, and spreading out the buying would be more economical.

The payments on the new model would be less than the money allocated each year to the reserve fund, he added.

Elwell said with fire truck inflation, buying a new truck in six years will cost the town an additional $90,000.

The option was defeated 85 to 62 by secret ballot.

The $995,415 budget — a 4 percent increase over last year's approved figure — was  passed.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.