Town of Pittsfield
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Moderator George Deblon called the Pittsfield Special Town Meeting to order at 7:15 pm. Approximately 107 people were in attendance at the Pittsfield Town Hall. George led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Article 1. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $35,000 to be placed in a town reserve fund for the future purchase of a fire truck? Andy Hawley motioned to table Article 1 until after Article 2 was decided. Seconded by Greg Martin. Charles Piso motioned an objection to tabling Article 1. Seconded by Clairetta Corron. The Moderator requested the reason for asking to table Article 1. Greg Martin wants to hold off on Article 1 because if $200,000 gets voted in, the voters would probably like to hold off on a contingency fund. Sarah Gallagher would like the moderator to consider discussing both articles and then have the vote. Ann Kuendig motioned to table Article 1 until after Article 2 and to vote by paper ballot. Seconded by Arline Drugonis. The moderator clarified that a yes vote means to table Article 1. A no vote means do not table Article 1. 102 ballots cast, 74 yes, 27 no, 1 spoiled ballot. Article 1 tabled.
Article 2. Shall the voters of Pittsfield authorize the purchase of a Pumper/Tanker Fire Apparatus in an amount not to exceed $200,000 to be financed over a period not to exceed 5 years? Charles Piso made a motion to authorize the purchase of a Pumper/Tanker Fire Apparatus in an amount not to exceed $200,000 to be financed over a period not to exceed 5 years. Seconded by Dennis O’Brien.
Select Board Chair Charles Piso was invited to make a presentation in front of those assembled: discussed shared goal and shared responsibilities of the Select Board and Pittsfield Volunteer Fire and Rescue (PVF&R); the Select Board’s plan to form a truck group to further study the purchase; the insurance cost; buy new, buy used or retrofit truck; future needs of the town; the need for capital planning; would like to make sure the money is being spent the right way; projected an estimated $210 increase in taxes next year on a $200,000 home because there will not be a one-time monies infusion of $109,000 like there was this year.
Fire Chief Colton, Assistant Chief Greg Martin and Captain Caleb Hawley were invited to the front of those assembled to make a presentation: discussed the reserve fund being a good idea but they need a new truck now; $84 on a $200,000 home seems good to them for having a new truck; it is in the best interest of the town to put money into a new truck instead of a used truck; the new truck will be very versatile and very reliable; they used to have a great source of water at Stanley Tool but that source is no longer available; they now have some dry hydrants around town and a truck is needed to pump water from the dry hydrants; they have done their due diligence and have been working on this for 3 to 4 years, an explanation of how dry hydrants work, the department has already looked at used vehicles, the department has already answered the Select Board questions about financing and leasing.
After the two presentations were complete, the discussion was open to the floor. Several voters and department members made points regarding the fire truck purchase: a tanker from a neighboring town was what helped saved an owner’s property several years ago; many reasons over the past 20 years to raise taxes and this truck is important; it will take six months to a year to build a new truck; the Town could have been fundraising and putting away funds for the last 4 or 5 years if the Select Board had known about this; without having proper equipment to serve our community our insurance rates will go up and the department will not be eligible for fire grants; $4,300 to $5,700 fundraised per year 2015-2017; Fire and Rescue is all volunteer and they would love to have some help; the town should do letter solicitation; department would have to change the fire house if it got a piece of used equipment; Pittsfield is running down a road of debt and needs a permanent solution.
Select Board member, Ann Kuendig, commented that creative ways to get this department exactly what they need is exactly what the Select Board is looking for. There are companies that look all over the country for used vehicles. Article 1 can be changed to $50,000 and with the $50,000 from PVF&R that would be $100,000. Ann spoke of other area fire departments that had bought used trucks. The department could possibly have a truck right away rather than waiting the six months to one year to have it built.
Captain Caleb Hawley stated that if the town borrows $200,000 and writes solicitation letters and does get money from the solicitation, it could be put toward the truck and could get the truck paid right off. He invites anyone interested in helping to come see them. Dave Colton stated that the used truck purchased recently by a local town was for a backup, it was not a primary water source.
The discussion continued with additional citizen comments: good used pumper/tankers are hard to find because they are so popular; citizens should work together as a team and support the fire department; all are public meetings so please attend to find out what is going on; PVF&D has always been a small but frugal bunch but can get burned out, this is something the department really needs; town needs to listen to Select Board because if we had a capital plan we wouldn’t be in this position, but the truck request is not frivolous; PVF&R does a great job.
Martha Beyersdorf and Suana Bicek volunteered to help with fundraising.
Charles reiterated the town’s appreciation for the hard work and commitment of Pittsfield Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
Charles moved the question. Seconded by Jerry Drugonis. Voted by paper ballot. Out of 101 ballots cast, 69 yes and 31 no, 1 spoiled. Article 2 passed.
Article 1. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $35,000 to be placed in a town reserve fund for the future purchase of a fire truck? Dennis O’Brien moved to authorize $35,000 to be placed in a town reserve fund for the future purchase of a fire truck. Seconded by Charles Piso. Charles stated that the voters have made their decision and that the town will expedite the purchase of the fire truck. The Select Board will speak with all departments and will have a capital plan in place for all departments by next town meeting. Sarah Gallagher called the vote. Seconded by Ian Sullivan. Hand vote. Overwhelmingly a no vote. Article 1 defeated.
Article 3. To discuss any other non-binding business which may properly come before the meeting. Tim Hunt questioned the need for a bid since the department had done their due diligence. Charles explained that the bid is already all set and the letter will now be written. Nancy Blessing noted the number of people at the meeting and would like the town to reconsider the time for March Town Meeting.
Dave Colton made a motion to adjourn. Seconded by Jerry Drugonis. Voice vote. Meeting adjourned at 8:47 pm.
s/Patricia S. Haskins, Town Clerk and Treasurer
Approved by: s/Matt Corron, Select Board Member Dated: May 22, 2018
s/Sarah Gallagher, Justice of the Peace