Truck purchase draws criticism by former selectman

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    SANGERVILLE — The selectmen’s selection of a 1995 GMC one-ton platform truck has sparked both criticism and a discussion about what is and isn’t a pick-up truck. A group led by former Selectman Irving McNaughton objected to the board’s decision on May 14 to purchase the vehicle. McNaughton described the truck as a “piece of junk” which didn’t meet the criteria stipulated by the voters.

    He explained that in March voters approved up to $8,000 for the purchase of a pick-up truck. The town needed a light-duty truck to use for public work department’s errands. The 1995 GMC is a an open-body truck, not a pick-up, as defined by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
    McNaughton accused the board of not following the voters’ mandate of purchasing a pick-up truck. He believed the 1995 GMC will be used for more than as a simple “runner truck” for the department.
    “This is not a pick-up truck,” McNaughton said. “This is not what the voters approved at the town meeting. It’s going to be used for more than transportation. It is too big for our needs. And you never should’ve bought it.”
    The town purchased the truck for $4,350. The selectman also approved other purchases which included a toolbox, new muffler system, glow plugs, and fuel tank with electric pump. The town has also purchased a $975 fuel injection pump and $500 electrical part to fix the truck’s starter.
    So far, the town has spent $7,350 on the 1995 GMC. Selectman Tom Carone defended the board’s decision to purchase the truck. When he checked the vehicle with Public Works Director Peter Drummond, he said “it started, ran and did everything it was supposed to do.”
    Carone agreed that it didn’t fit the technical definition of a pick-up, but he believes it will serve the town’s purpose. He also recalled when McNaughton was on the board earlier in the spring that he favored purchasing a three-quarter ton truck which also didn’t fit the technical definition of a pick-up truck.
    “His choice didn’t fit the criteria either so I’m not sure why he’s making a big deal about it now,” Carone said. “The GMC is a flatbed, medium duty truck which will carry more things. Public works will be able to do more stuff like brush cutting so I think the board did the right thing as far as the town was concerned.”
    McNaughton also had concerns about Drummond not contacting town officials immediately after the truck broke down. He complained about it taking at least two days before town officials were notified about the problem.
    He also reported that the truck was improperly towed back to the town garage by another municipal vehicle. Pearson confirmed the truck’s mechanical problems weren’t immediately reported. He indicated that and the other issues were a personnel matter.
    McNaughton believes that Drummond had too much influence on the truck purchase.
    “The selectmen are doing what he’s telling them to do,” McNaughton said. “They bought the truck he wanted, not the one the voters wanted. He also ordered parts without first seeking approval from the town manager.”
    The lengthy discussion over the truck purchase led to Selectperson Melissa Randall to request that public discussion be limited. The selectmen tabled the motion and are expected to vote on the proposal at their May 23 meeting.
    The motion is designed to limit public input to a 30-minute public forum which precedes the meeting’s business portion.
    As board chairman, Carone typically allows for public input during the meeting. He favors allowing the public to speak during the meeting.
    “I’ve always been an advocate to keep the meetings open,” Carone said. “I want the public’s involvement and believe it’s important for the selectmen to receive their input.”

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.