St. John Valley

Van Buren councilors overwhelmingly support purchase of new $189k plow truck, but delay final vote for town input

VAN BUREN, Maine — Van Buren town council met May 4 in an empty apparatus bay at the fire station for a regular bi-weekly meeting where they discussed the purchase of a new plow truck and reviewed the proposed budgets for three down departments.

The council was unanimous in support of the plow truck, but ultimately decided to delay the vote until the next meeting — moving the 60-day cancellation period to well after the annual June 8 town meeting where residents could give feedback on the purchase. 

The truck, which would be custom built for the town’s streets, would cost an estimated $188,939, councilor Paul Nadeau said. This figure accounts for both the total price of the truck and warranty as well as the cost to fit the vehicle with a plow and box. Nadeau and highway department supervisor Rick Sirois co-led the search for the truck. 

“I do realize it’s a large-dollar purchase, but the citizens are asking for us to have clean streets — sanded, salted.” Paul Nadeau said. “We have equipment — unfortunately through no fault of Rick’s or anyone else — it’s old.” 

Should the council move forward with the purchase, the truck would come from Daigle and Houghton, a Fort Kent heavy-duty truck dealership and likely would not arrive until the late spring or early summer of 2022. Nadeau said this was in part due to order back-ups throughout the supply chain. 

The council also discussed proposed budgets for the parks and recreation and economic development departments and the miscellaneous and unclassified budget line. 

Councilor John Beaulieu, who attended the most recent meeting of the recreation board, covered some of the impending needs of the recreation department like the tennis courts and basketball hoops, which have fallen into disrepair. 

The group also talked about potentially putting some leftover funds from the transportation line item from this year — $2,500 of which went unused due to covid — toward buying a van to help transport kids to and from extracurricular activities. 

“It’s the kid who would need that service, who would benefit most from that programming, that doesn’t have a way to get… back home after the programming or get to the programming in the first place,” Beaulieu said. “The high risk students that you want at those activities.”

No further action was taken at the meeting, but heading into the final budget sessions of the year, the council still has to consider the ambulance department budget and talk about what will become of the funds that had previously been used to run Van Buren’s now-defunct police department. 

Council chair Joey Ouellette was travelling on vacation, and not present at the meeting.

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