February 08, 2012TILTON — Tilton-Northfield Fire District held a public hearing on Feb. 6 where they unveiled their draft for a 2012 budget of $1,417,279, down $150,680 from last year and agreed upon by both the Budget Committee and the Fire Commission.
The hearing drew some requests for clarification from voters of both towns who were in attendance, but one of the only points of contention came from district treasurer Roland Seymour, who said he was surprised to learn two weeks that ago his proposed salary, should he win re-election in March, was down $500, to $2,000 per year.
"I've done additional reports for you this year, and keep the books on a regular basis. The accounts are always reconciled. I don't feel a reduction is warranted," Seymour said.
Commissioner Tom Gallant, also a representative to the budget committee, said the commission took a look at the contributions of the role of treasurer, and did not feel the previous $2,500 salary was justified. He told Seymour the decision to lower the salary was made at a meeting "many months ago." Seymour said he had been unaware of any meeting to discuss his salary, and asked the budget committee to restore the $500 in their draft.
"We'll take that under advisement, but chances are, we will not. You can always ask to amend it at the district meeting next month," Gallant said.
Chief Brad Ober presented information on a new 75-foot Quint aerial ladder truck the department would like to purchase from money held in the Apparatus and Equipment Replacement Fund. The fund, which has a current balance of $542,000, sees annual revenues of $300,000 collected from ambulance fees.
The estimated price for the vehicle is $630,000, which would be paid in two installments over two years. Ober said 50 percent would be due upon order of the vehicle, and the other 50 percent would be required on delivery.
"It would go out to bid by mid-July. There's a 300-day build time on these, so it would be spring, a year from now, before we take delivery and the second installment would be due," Ober said.
The new apparatus would replace the 1992 Engine 2 and the 1981 Ladder 1 currently being used by the fire department. Ober said Ladder 1 has a number of issues, including a hydraulic leak and an electrical problem. The manufacturer has been out of business for 20 years, and parts are not even available for many repairs. A mechanic recently told the department that problems affecting radio operations and other malfunctions are not worth the cost of repair.
"It's done. It's served its life," said Ober.
The Quint would come with a 75-foot ladder with a greater tip load, scene lighting with greater capability than the department now has, and is capable of performing rescue work and is safer to operate. It would also have all bracketing, painting and decal work included in the price.
"We can reduce our fleet by one engine and still meet all our needs," Ober said, adding that there is also the possibility a demo truck could possibly become available for purchase at a discount and therefore save additional money from the apparatus fund.
After the budget presentation, commissioners then read the warrant articles that will be up for voter consideration this year. Article 13 seeks $125,988 for the annual expense of pressurized hydrants within the district. Gallant explained the cost is an agreed upon figure between the Tilton-Northfield Water District and the fire commissioners.
"It's based on the number of hydrants and a cost per hydrant," he said.
Should a hydrant not meet the required gallons per minute, the fee for that particular hydrant would be waived until it is working properly.
A petitioned article on the hydrants follows the commission's recommendation, seeking to pay the water district only $50,000 for pressurized hydrants. Should Article 13 pass, as recommended, this article would be a moot point, Gallant noted. It was presented into the warrant by resident Peter Fogg who feels the fee, as determined by the Water District, is too high.
The district's annual meeting to vote on the warrant will take place March 19 at 7 p.m. in the Winnisquam Regional High School Cafetorium. A copy of the 2012 budget proposal, as well as a narrative on the budget, can be found online at www.tnfd.org.