West Paris voters to replace retiring selectman at Saturday's Town Meeting
Feb. 27—WEST PARIS — With longtime public official Dale Piirainen retiring, voters will pick a new selectman at Saturday's annual Town Meeting.
The Town Meeting will be held at the Ring-Mckeen American Legion Post 151 hall at 6 Church St., beginning at 10 a.m.
Piirainen, the current chairman of the Select Board, is stepping down after two terms. He had previously served 10 years as a director for Maine School Administrative District 17, including chairman.
Since nominations will be taken from the floor Saturday, Town Manager Joy Downing said she was not sure who would seek to replace Piirainen.
Residents will also vote on whether to approve the $1.4 million municipal budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The proposed budget represents an 8% increase.
Downing pointed to increases in salaries, cost of equipment and parts and utilities for the higher budget.
"Inflation has increased the price of everything we need to keep the town running and provide necessary services. Our most valuable assets are our employees, all of whom are receiving wage increases in order to stay competitive with other towns in our area," Piirainen wrote in his message to residents in the Town Report.
Piirainen also noted the state minimum wage increased nearly 8.5% in January.
Town officials are also asking residents to approve entering into a five-year lease-to-own purchase of a 2023 Caterpillar 420XE Loader Backhoe. The first-year payment of $29,717.41 would be paid from the highway equipment reserve account.
If not approved, officials are asking voters to approve more than $21,000 to repair the current 14-year-old backhoe.
Residents will also be asked to approve spending American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase two generators for the Town Office and Fire Station. Recent power outages this winter have prevented the doors at the fire station and the salt shed to fully open.
In addition to voting for a new selectman, residents must also vote for a new MSAD 17 director to replace Natalie Andrews, who recently stepped down to become Town Manager of Bethel. Residents will also vote to fill one seat on the town's water district trustees for a three-year term.