To raise or not to raise: Fire District 2 annual meeting

May 8, 2023

Salaries and stipends were all the buzz at the Fire District 2 annual meeting on Monday, May 8, with voters generally agreeing to boost pay for some Fire District employees. 

The primary discussion at the meeting regarded paying the Fire District 2 employees “fairly.” However, the voters and the Prudential Committee, the district's governing body, often had differing opinions on how much money should be spent on certain positions.

This was a theme present at last year's annual meeting too, where there was lots of debate about how much the District 2 Fire Chief should be paid. 

At this year’s meeting, District voter John Garfield  proposed an amendment to Article 3 on the warrant which raised the Fire District Treasurer’s pay from $13,000 annually to $15,000. 

“Our clerk and treasurer has been working overtime…She’s putting in about 650 hours a year on this job. That comes out to something like 70 cents an hour,” said Garfield. “So our motion is to increase that by $2,000.”

The amendment was well-received by voters and Prudential Committee Member Ralph Medeiros. The other two Committee members were not as fond of the raise. 

Prudential Committee Member Bob Bouley thought that a “14% increase in the pay...was fair” for the clerk who also acts as the treasurer but, “being raised to the new figure, that would give her a 36% increase, to me it just doesn't seem fair that school teachers can’t get a three percent increase, and were going to pay the clerk [36% more].”

Bouley has previously opposed increasing pay for the fire chief. 

Despite disagreement from both Bouley and the newly elected Prudential Committee member John Sousa, the district voters passed the article with the amended higher salary. 

The next debate at the meeting was an amendment to Article 5 regarding stipends for the Deputy Chief and Fire Inspector stipend. The warrant proposed $14,000 for the Deputy Chief and $1,200 for the Inspector. 

Garfield proposed an amendment to raise the Deputy Chief’s stipend to $36,000 and the Fire Inspector stipend to $12,000. 

“Deputy Chief Wayne Thomas…in addition to his daytime duties, he is on call nights, and weekends. Ensuring that we District residents are protected from fires, medical emergencies and other safety concerns,” said District voter Harry Booth. “To reduce his annual income by $22,000 – that is cruel, absolutely cruel.”

However, Bouley and Sousa found the proposed stipends too high. 

“This district can’t compare itself to any [other] district. District 2 is the smallest district in Bristol County,” said Sousa. “If we are the smallest, we can’t be paying chiefs and everybody else [amounts] that [equal] New Bedford or anybody else.”

Multiple voters at the meeting advocated for the amended pay, ultimately voting to approve it. 

All other articles proposed on the Fire District 2 Annual Meeting agenda passed as written. 

About 10,000 residents live in Fire District 2, which is sandwiched by Horseneck and Division roads on the west, and Russells Mills and Potomska roads on the east. The district extends to the Buzzards Bay coast on the southern end and reaches about halfway up Chase and Lucy Little roads going north.