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New fire engine dominates Rindge deliberative session discussion

  • Rindge fire chief Rick Donovan discusses the need for a new fire engine. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The town of Rindge held its deliberative session on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The town of Rindge held its deliberative session on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The town of Rindge held its deliberative session on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The town of Rindge held its deliberative session on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 05, 2018

A proposal to purchase a new fire engine was the largest discussion point at Rindge’s deliberative session on Saturday morning. 

The article, if passed, would ask voters to appropriate $450,000 for a new fire engine, detailing, financing, etc., with a down payment of up to $100,755. The town’s 23-year-old engine would be traded in for $10,000. The new truck would likely be purchased through a lease agreement, which would contain an escape clause. 

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the new engine is needed,” said Selectwomen Roberta Oeser, who proposed an amendment to the original article – which had asked for $467,729. The amendment was brought forth – and passed Saturday – after Fire Chief Rick Donovan found a better deal.

Budget Advisory Committee chair Tom Coneys told the public that his committee did not recommend the original article – by a vote of two to four, with one abstention. He said his committee didn’t have enough time to analyze the new amendment to offer a recommendation. 

Coneys said he did research on different fire truck options, finding some as cheap as $300,000, but Donovan said those cheaper trucks are not up to safety standards. 

Donovan said he was in favor of the amendment when asked by a member of the public, as it allows him to get the equipment he needs to keep the town safe at a lesser cost than initially anticipated. 

“I’m good with anything that lessens the burden on the taxpayers,” said Donovan, who said the current engine 1 has broken down as recently as two Saturdays ago. “I want to provide the best public safety I can give.”

Rick Sirvint, who is a member of the budget advisory committee and trustees of the trust fund, said it was his personal opinion that the new fire engine is needed, but he would like to see funds from the town’s Electric Light Trust Fund used to purchase the truck. 

“For me, it’s because of the method of financing,” said Sirvint. “I’m suggesting that someone in the room reduce this article to $1… next year we can liberate the Electric Light Trust Fund.”

The town asked voters last year for $425,000 to purchase a new truck in the form of two warrant articles – one had an escape clause and the other didn’t – but both articles failed. 

Sirvint also spoke against an article asking voters to raise $100,000 for the Highway Capital Reserve Fund and $25,000 for the Fire Department Capital Reserve Fund, proposing an amendment to the article to bring the ask to $1. 

“No one can show me we don’t have the money… we have $1 million sitting right there,” said Sirvint, referring to the town’s Electric Light Trust Fund. 

Oeser, who said she suggested the article, wanted to get the town to start saving money again so that future capital needs could be purchased when they needed to be. 

“We’re trying to get things as level funded as possible,” said Oeser, referring to an attempt to eliminate dramatic tax-rate increases and decreases in the future. 

Sirvint’s amendment was seconded by Select Board chair Jim Qualey, who said he didn’t think the town needed to put away money at this time as the town still has a few properties to auction off. 

The motion failed, meaning the original article will appear on the ballot. 

Selectmen and the budget advisory committee are unanimously in support of the proposed $3.98 million operating budget this year, which marks about a 2.25-percent increase over last year’s approved total, according to Qualey. 

Qualey said about $73,000 of the increase was due to wages and benefits, which includes a two-percent wage increase and about $50,000 in health and other insurance plan changes. The remaining $14-15,000 in increases is attributes to materials and contract obligations, according to Qualey. 

No members of the public had questions about the budget, which Qualey called “very tight.”

Oeser defended the raising of $5,000 for the Rindge 250 Expendable Trust Fund, which would be used to help celebrate the town’s 250th anniversary. 

“This $5,000 is needed for the parade, fireworks, and other activities,” said Oeser, who said this money would be used in addition to $5,000 raised through last year’s Town Meeting, in combination with donations raised through the 250th Planning Committee. 

Oeser said the town had raised $10,000 in a warrant article back in 1968, when the town celebrated its 200th anniversary. 

Sirvint spoke in opposition to the article, saying he was in support of celebrating the town but felt the money should be raised privately. 

Coneys said the budget advisory committee was split on the article – the committee voted 2-5 to recommend the article – but he felt that $5,000 was “chicken feed” compared to the other articles. 

All of the other articles were brought up with little or no public comment.

Voters will have a chance to approve all 20 articles during a town vote on March 13. The warrant can be viewed on the town website. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.