Putney budget vote set for Thursday


PUTNEY -- Putney residents will meet Thursday night for a special Town Meeting to hold a second vote on the proposed $1.87 million FY 2015 budget.

The special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 22, at 6:30 p.m. at Putney Central School. It was called after a petition was handed in to the Selectboard in April requesting the second vote on the budget which passed at Town Meeting.

At the March 4 Town Meeting residents from the floor added $22,000 to the budget to encourage the Selectboard to retain the services of Rescue Inc. next year.

The board's original budget did not include enough money for the Rescue Inc. 2015 contract.

The board instead opted to switch the town's ambulance services next year to Golden Cross of Claremont, N.H., a move which would have saved the town about $22,000.

But the money was put back into the budget and the board said it would sign a contract with Rescue Inc. if voters approved the extra money.

But following the meeting Greg Short gathered enough signatures to call the special vote which the Selectboard scheduled for May 22.

Short said he was disappointed that the voters at Town Meeting passed up the chance to save the town money and he wanted to hold another vote to see if there would be support to approve the Selectboard's original budget without the Rescue Inc. money in it.

The Selectboard made the decision to switch away from Rescue inc. after almost 50 years after doing research on the response times of the two services and determining that the town would be adequately covered by Golden Cross.

The proposed contract with Rescue Inc came in at $58,768 for FY 2015.

Golden Cross, which has offered to provide service in 2015 for $36,447, has a garage in Westminster.

Putney Fire Chief Tom Goddard has also endorsed the change.

While voters can not direct the Selectboard how to spend money, Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard said the board would sign a contract with Rescue Inc. for 2015 if the money is once again added to the budget.

Rescue Inc. Director Drew Hazelton said he plans to be at Thursday night's meeting.

"We have been providing excellent EMS service to Putney for almost 50 years and we will continue to express an interest in doing service with the town," Hazelton said. "We want to be there to answer questions and hopefully explain the good value Rescue provides, and what the town gets for that service."

Stoddard said Golden Cross has also been invited to Thursday's meeting though Golden Cross owner Dale Girard is out of town and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.


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