Fire District 1 approves $1.2 million budget

May 9, 2019

Fire District 1 voted in their annual meeting on Wednesday to approve nearly $1.3 million in spending for next year, including several big-ticket items such as a pick-up truck, a generator, and a ventilation system.

In a meeting that lasted only twenty minutes, District 1 voters agreed to set aside $1,287,115 for a raft of potential expenditures in fiscal year 2020.

These included $70,000 for a new 4x4 pick-up truck; $45,000 for a new generator to replace one that’s nearly two decades old; and $55,700 for a new air vent system to meet OSHA requirements.

Among the highest-value appropriations were $576,000 for support of the district, which includes bills such as alarm systems, utilities, and health insurance; $122,640 for two new part-time personnel; $105,000 for various stipends, new gear, and equipment repairs and upgrades; and $60,000 to maintain and manage the district’s land and buildings.

Repairs to the Old Fire Station on Bridge Street ($10,000) were also on the docket, as department members expressed safety concerns over the state of the porch.

Only one item drew any dissenting votes — that of the Fire Chief’s salary, for which the district wanted to set aside $95,000.

Chief Ellis — who is currently drawing a salary of that amount — will be let go in June this year, so the salary will apply to whomever is next appointed to the position.

Former department member Charlie Ormonde asked if they would be starting the new fire chief at this salary level.

The meeting’s moderator, Deputy Fire Chief Jake Bettencourt, responded that as money set aside for the purpose, it represents a maximum salary cap rather than a starting salary.

However, Ormonde seemed dissatisfied with the arrangement.

“If that means it’s for the chief we have now, Chief Ellis — I know he’s no longer chief after June,” he said. “But if that was for him, I would vote yes. But it isn’t so I’ll vote no.” 

His was the only dissenting vote during the meeting.

Pay rates for firefighters, dispatchers, and other personnel — ranging from $20 to $29 per hour — and the salaries of various department officials were also approved, although a motion to increase the Deputy Chief’s salary from $20,000 to $25,000 failed to pass.

The full list of items approved at the meeting is available to download above.