HINSDALE, N.H. -- The Board of Selectmen hacked up two of the draft town warrant’s articles pertaining to money appropriated to the Hinsdale Fire Department, cutting in half the amount the chief was requesting from taxpayers in those articles.
Article 8 had originally asked voters to approve of $80,000 to repair the 1999 Pierce pumper truck the fire department uses, while Article 9 sought to add an identical sum to the Fire Apparatus Fund. But, citing the amount of money at stake in the draft warrant, the selectmen voted to make amendments and trim the dollar figures associated with Articles 8 and 9.
Selectman Jay Ebbighausen made a motion to reword Article 8, which now asks voters to raise and appropriate $40,000 to place into an expendable trust and Bernie Rideout seconded the motion after taking a moment to think about it. The motion then passed, and the other $40,000 is expected to be added next year. Ebbighausen also made the motion to change Article 9 to seek the same amount for a new fire truck and that passed as well.
Fire Chief Jay Matuszewski explained the pumper truck has to be stripped from one end to the other.
"It has rusted where it should not be rusted," he said, adding that it is usually the first truck out the door when there is a fire call. "The body is to the point where if we don’t do something now, it’s going to get progressively worse and worse.
"If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. And then things will get worse and that $80,000 will be $100,000," he continued.
Matuszewski told the Reformer the pumper truck is in rough shape and showing its age. He said it needs to be repaired and he now fears it will now just cost more money in the long run.
Ebbighausen was quick to tell Matuszewski he supports the fire department and the cuts aren’t meant to make anybody’s life more difficult.
"You’re doing your job. It’s your job to bring us numbers and It’s our job to kind of look at the whole pot and that’s what we’re doing."
Article 15 asks voters to add $16,000 to the Fire Department Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Fund to purchase personal protective equipment for the department. It was recommended, 5-0, by the selectmen.
Earlier during Monday’s meeting, Hinsdale Highway Superintendent Frank Podlenski went before the board to discuss Article 11, which pertains to his department. Adoption of the article would raise and appropriate $60,000 to be added to the Highway Capital Equipment Fund.
"We’re just trying to keep the budget, you know, sort of flat and not have any big spikes. That’s what $60,000 a year does for my equipment," he told the selectmen. He told the Reformer if $60,000 can be squirreled away, a piece of equipment can be purchased as needed at a later date. The selectmen asked him to gather more information about a five-year lease on a new loader and he said he will get it to Town Administrator Jill Collins by Monday.
Podlenski also suggested having the local schools pay for the materials the highway crew uses to salt the premises.
"My salt budget is about 75 percent gone right now and I feel that the school should be able to pay for some of the material that is used on their parking lots up there. I don’t think it’s too much to ask them to pay for a load of salt on a yearly basis," he said. "It would run $1,700 to $2,000 worth of salt a year -- what’s taken out of my budget is well over that throughout the year when I do work up there, as far as fuel, man-hours on the trucks and the material.
"I just think it should be brought up," he continued. "Nobody else pays my bills for the highway."
Ebbighausen said he did understand the point of doing that.
Podlenski explained he uses about one load (or roughly two tons) of material every time he salts the school grounds.
The budget committee eventually voted 5-4 to recommend Article 2, which would raise and appropriate $1,416,687 to reconstruct Monument Road, from Plain road to Meetinghouse Road, and authorize the selectmen to borrow a sum not to exceed $1,416,687 in bonds or notes in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Finance Act. Adoption of the article would also give municipal officials authority to issue and negotiate the bonds and notes and determine their interest rates.
Eight members of the committee also recommend Article 3, which would raise and appropriate $3,497,252 for the town budget and Article 6, which would ratify the selectmen’s decision to accept a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant that will provide 60 percent of the cost to hire a school resource officer for 36 months. Committee member Bruce Belville abstained from both votes.
Adoption of Article 10 would give selectmen permission to enter into a four-year lease for $72,000 for two Ford Interceptor utility police vehicle made by Ford and generate $31,748 for the first year’s lease payment of $8,079 and $7,795 to set up the vehicles with the necessary equipment. The budget committee voted 5-4 not to recommend it. Member Lewis Major and Chairman Peter Zavorotny said the police department has taken a lot of hits and saw no reason why it should have to take any more.
Mike Darcy, chairman of the board of selectmen, said the finalized town warrant should be ready by Feb. 5.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.