Panton OKs $121,000 for new trucks to plow roads

PANTON — Twenty Panton residents at a 22-minute special meeting Dec. 17 unanimously backed a selectboard proposal for a $121,012, five-year truck loan.
They also supported the board’s proposal to use a budget carry-over from the past year to make the first year’s payment for the truck of $20,192.
The selectboard had called the meeting to seek voter approval because the fully equipped, International Viking tandem plow vehicle was not in the board’s budget for the current fiscal year.
Board members said they decided they wanted residents to weigh in on such a major purchase, but also did not want to wait until Town Meeting Day in March to put the new truck on town roads. Board chairman John Viskup said the town expects the truck to be delivered this month.
Viskup said board members decided on a new truck after they and road foreman Rick Cloutier researched when best to trade in older trucks, and learned the time was right to do so with the town’s 8-year-old vehicle.
As well as learning that an 8-year trade is a financial sweet spot and being concerned about “another year’s depreciation,” Viskup also said the truck had immediate needs, which Cloutier estimated at the meeting would cost between $50,000 and $60,000.
The final $121,000 price included what Viskup called a good discount and the trade-in value for the town’s 2006 truck.
The board also hopes the purchase will have little or no impact on the town’s tax rate not only for the coming year, but also for the year to follow — Viskup said Panton is running a surplus in the current fiscal year that town officials believe will be enough to set aside for the second year’s payment.
The selectboard is also proposing to set aside an amount equal to 7 percent of the town’s budget — $47,000 — as a contingency fund to protect the town against future unexpected expenses. The board will at town meeting in March propose that fund, which Panton’s auditors recommended, in their budget.
“I think that’s just good planning,” Viskup said. “We’re just trying every way we can to eliminate surprises in our budget.”
The surplus from the current budget might well be able to cover the new contingency fund, he said.
“I think we will be able to do that,” Viskup said, although he cautioned that the fiscal year is only at its midway point.
As well as the overall contingency fund in the town budget, the selectboard also plans to create a capital fund within the highway budget based on depreciation of all town equipment with a value over $5,000, including a front-end loader, a grader, tractors, mowers and trucks.
The selectboard was pleased that 20 residents showed up at a Wednesday night meeting held right before the holidays, and to see the backing for their proposals.
“I thank all the residents that were there, because that kind of support does show confidence,” Viskup said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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