A vote of 42 to 23, with one blank, was the determining factor in a secret ballot held during Washington's town meeting March 30.

The article in question was seeking to get authorization from the town to sell a parcel of property back to resident John Medeika that had previously been foreclosed on due to nonpayment of taxes.

Medeika had placed the property in a trust fund to have the taxes paid, which never occurred. Therefore, the town was forced to foreclose on the property. Medeika was present to speak on his own behalf.

"Payments were made, but not in full and they were late," said Town Clerk Ann Dean.

Incumbent selectmen Wesley Daniel made a motion to amend the article "to include legal fees", which was passed. Then Dean motioned to request the article be voted under paper ballot.

On the previous article, the residents voted in favor of authorizing the selectmen to offer the sale of such properties — acquired by tax liens, other liens or other processes — to the "former owner and to negotiate the sale at a price that is deemed advantageous to the town."

"Negotiation will never be less than what is owed," said Selectman Donald L. Grinnell in answer to a resident's question regarding the selectmen's negotiation discretion.

"There is tremendous costs involved in this process," said Selectman Duane Vigue. "We try to work with the citizens. We don't want to take anyone's home," he said.

The property in question is assessed at $103,000 for the land and additional $195,538 for the building. The town was seeking permission to offer it back to Medeika in exchange for $16,550.83, the amount that is owed to the town for unpaid property taxes assessed on the parcel since 2009.

Articles 40 through 51 dealt with the town budget. Grinnell prefaced that revenues are anticipated because the state budget will not be approved until June.

"We may have to come back for a special town meeting to adjust these figures," he said.

This year's municipal budget is $681,783, but is offset by the projected revenues of $358,650, making the total to be raised by residents $323,133. This is a slight increase over last year, which saw an assessment of $264,082, or 1.22 percent.

Salaries, stipends and payroll expenses increased by $7,000 this year due to 3 percent raises for the town clerk and deputy town clerk positions, a 2 percent raise for the treasurer, and $500 each for the fire chief and deputy fire chief.

Maintenance of town roads and operations increased by $46,181, mainly due to the current condition of the roads.

"Road repair is the main contributor to the budget increase," said Grinnell.

Diligent research was done according to Selectmen Grinnell and Vigue. "We even looked into the cheaper chip seal, but we can't use that process because of the condition of our roads," said Grinnell.

The town has just over 20 miles of paved road, which according to the selectmen's proposal, needs to be repaved every 10 years. Thus it proposed the town pave two miles per year to keep up with the projected maintenance at an annual cost of $180,000.

Election results

In elections held March 29, incumbent Wesley Daniel reelected after he ran unopposed for the three-year selectman seat and Sean Donaghy was elected to serve on the school board until 2015.

Voters also adopted an ordinance that exempts eligible active duty military personnel from having to pay vehicle excise tax. The vote was 114 in favor, 16 against.

During town meeting March 30, residents nominated and elected seven budget committee members. They are Kathy Ocean, Jesse Casas, Dave Williams, Hank Aho, Dorothy Sainio, Dave Martucci and Wendy Carr. Jim Bowers was nominated, but respectfully declined the seat.

Citizens recognized

The board of selectmen recognized Charlotte Henderson for her outstanding news coverage by presenting her with the Spirit of America award. She was not present at the meeting.

They also acknowledged Frank Jones Jr. for his service. Jones retired as Road Commissioner last year after assisting the town in implementing a Public Works Department six years ago. Prior to that, he was a contractor with the town.

Fire Chief Tom Johnston and Deputy Fire Chief Phil Meunier presented lifetime memberships to fellow fire department members Frank Jones Sr. and Donald B. Grinnell. Jones retired from the department after 20 years of service and Grinnell retired after serving as chief for 10 years. He had served the town for more than 40 years.

Veterans, past and present, were also recognized for their service to the town and nation. Chris Armstrong, resident and veteran, led the Pledge of Allegiance to open the meeting. The 2012 Annual Town Report was also dedicated to the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces.

About 70 residents attended the meeting that lasted about two hours. Thomas Ford of Hope was the moderator.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at bbirmingham@courierpublicationsllc.com.