Fire District 3 approves budget at annual meeting

May 2, 2022

Dartmouth’s Fire District 3 held its annual meeting on Monday, May 2, where voters unanimously passed each item of the district’s budget for fiscal year 2023.

The district’s budget will total $3,602,367.94 for the next fiscal year, $330,731.59 less than last year’s budget of $3,933,099.53.

The savings of about 8.4% from last year is the result of the district buying two new trucks last year, totaling almost $650,000.

Despite the decrease in total spending, the taxpayer’s bill will actually go up slightly as the district starts to refill its vehicle replacement program fund, which was partially depleted by last year’s truck purchases.

“We used funds from [the vehicle replacement program] last year, so we have to keep replenishing it,” said Joan Brennan, the district treasurer.

The purpose of the vehicle fund — which is part of the larger capital improvement fund — is to keep the tax burden consistent from year to year, even in years when the district needs to make a large vehicle purchase.

“It allows our tax rate to stay pretty stable,” said District 3 Fire Chief Richard Arruda. “So it’s a little bit better for the taxpayer.”

The total spending from the tax levy for next year will be $3,277,367.94, an increase of $265,244.81 — or about 8.8% — from last year.

Of the extra money being collected this year, $200,000 will go to the capital improvement fund, $57,447.81 will be added to various line items for employee salaries, and $42,897 more for insurance, retirement, and general expenses.

Those spending increases were offset by a savings of about $35,000 from smaller bond payments and a one time expense on last year’s budget for a tax reimbursement.

The district also voted to move $300,000 from surplus funds to the vehicle replacement fund and $25,000 from surplus funds to the capital improvement fund. Money taken from surplus does not affect the tax rate.

Overall, Arruda said that the budget was pretty standard.

“It’s just normal stuff, nothing too different,” he said.