Monson considers changes to snow plow contract

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    MONSON — The board of selectmen plan on revamping the winter plowing contract before sending it out to bid in May. The board wants to require the contractor to have a pre-wetting system and a grader or at least access to one. The contractor will also be required to start plowing when one inch of snow has fallen.


    The board decided to insert those changes into future contracts during their Feb. 20 meeting. For the past two years, Tim Knowlton, of Abbot, has been the winter maintenance contractor. His job performance has not met the expectations of Selectmen Buddy Martin and Bryant Brown who believe the town roads are too icy, but during a special meeting in January between the board and several former town officials, it was indicated road conditions had improved over the past year.

    The former officials believed a major hindrance to winter road maintenance is due to the town road’s overall poor condition. The former selectmen recommended the current board do a better job in communicating concerns to the contractor. They believed if the board, road commissioner and contractor worked in unison then the entire community would be better served.

    “We are a small town and I don’t want to see the town polarized with neighbor against neighbor,” said former Selectmen Paul Suomi. “If we want to do something different we need to find what that is and move on.”

    In December, Selectman Martin indicated he felt that Knowlton wasn’t abiding by the contract requirements. He and fellow Selectman Brown believed the road conditions were icy due to an excessive buildup of snow on the roads.

    During the special meeting held on Jan. 26, the former selectmen praised Knowlton for his efforts this winter in maintaining the roads. The past officials indicated that the town’s roads were in poor condition which made removing all of the snow on town roads nearly impossible.

    “In the light of last year’s events, Mr. Knowlton has been diligent in rectifying the problems,” said former Selectman Doug Nelson. “A county road consultant indicated in his report about the condition of our roads. There is no way a plow can remove snow over a corrugated surface and clear all the snow off.”

    Town Manager Julie Anderson is also the road commissioner. She believes that overall Knowlton has done a good job in maintaining the winter roads.

    “He’s been on top of it. There have been no real safety issues with the road conditions and he’s done a good job for us,” Anderson said.

    The selectmen scheduled a meeting to discuss the winter plowing contract with Knowlton, but he declined the invitation. The board doesn’t plan on scheduling another meeting with him before the putting the contract out to bid.

    In other action, town officials will propose a $732,987 municipal budget during the March town meeting. The budget is $197 less than this year’s. The selectmen are requesting additional spending increases in several budget lines. The board is requesting more money due to a contractually negotiated higher TRIO licensing fee, a 3 percent pay increase for municipal employees, and an increase in the auditor’s fee and higher transportation and fuel costs.

    The selectmen will next meet at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20 in the municipal building.

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