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|Fire Budget $100K short|
|Written by Susanna Sheehan|
|Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:33|
Due to a new three-year union contract with fire fighters finalized earlier this year, the fire department’s current budget has a shortfall of almost $100,000 and its budget for next year shows a 7.5 percent increase, due mainly to salaries.
Fire Chief Kevin Nord presented his budget for fiscal year 2015 to the Board of Selectmen Monday night. It totals $3.054 million, a 7.55 percent increase over the current FY14 budget of $2.83 million. Included in the FY15 budget are $2.7 million for salaries, a 7.89 percent increase and $289,405 for expenses, a 4.3 percent increase. The FY 15 budget will begin on July 1, 2014.
Nord said the current budget should have $106,000 more in it.
The firefighter’s union settled a three-year contract on the eve of the March town meeting, said Nord, and his current budget does not have all the money he needs to fund the 2013 contract.
“I am short $91,000 for these salaries,” he said.
Finance Director John Madden acknowledged the shortfall saying he is hopeful to find the money in the cur- rent year’s budget. If that is not possible, he will include a funding article for it at the special town meeting at next year’s annual town meeting.
For next year’s budget, Nord said the contractual salary increase is $96,000, a 3.9 percent increase. However, added to that is $27,000 for the 1.5 percent collective bargaining agreement increase for the next year; $11,000 for a five person “bump increase” in vacation time of 240 hours; $20,000 for a sick leave buy back for a pending retirement, $30,000 for public safety dis- patch coverage; and $8,000 for holiday recall coverage.
Nord’s expense budget will rise by $12,000, or 4 percent.
“Across the board we saw increases in all expense line items,” Nord stated in his presentation.
Nord is requesting five capital budget items. These include $47,000 to replace a 2005 Chevy Tahoe with 104,560 miles on it. This is the shift commander’s car. He is also seeking $11,500 to replace the frame rails on the ladder truck, $130,000 for new portable radios, and $45,000 for headsets for firefighters to wear inside vehicles to reduce hearing loss and improve communications en route to an emergency. Finally, Nord would like $35,000 to get the fire department accredited like the police department.
Over the past year, Nord used $16,500 in capital funds to transform a Ford F350 pick- up truck, a former police vehi- cle, into a fire truck and spent $38,500 to replace 1995 Jaws of Life extrication equipment.
Looking forward, he wants to educate his officers for emergencies that involve active shooters; and he is advocating for residential sprinklers because in new home construction, buildings combust more quickly and contain hazardous fumes, making fire fighting more dangerous.
Upcoming budget presentations at the selectmen’s meetings include the harbormaster, library and police on Nov. 25; department of public works on Dec. 2; and recreation and town manager presenting the town’s budget on Dec. 9.