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Erving voters say ‘aye’ to budget requests

ERVING — The fire department’s fleet will shrink and its equipment complement will increase, old town records will be new again and residential electric bills may eventually shrink by a handful of percentage points.

Residents approved every item on the warrant for the annual town meeting Wednesday night in the Erving Elementary School, most of them, unanimously.

Fire trucks and equipment generated some discussion, but voters unanimously approved each of the four requests, the first for $490,000 to purchase a new pumper truck, which Fire Chief Almon “Bud” Meattey said will serve as the primary vehicle and replace two aging trucks, a 1978 and a 1989 model. Next in line were $4,500 for radio upgrades and equipment and $15,000 for a turnout gear washing machine Meattey said will allow the department to launder fire suits more frequently and with less inconvenience and expense, safer for firefighters whose suits accumulate hazardous materials and combustibles.

The final $20,000 was for a compressor system to fill the air bottles used in breathing gear, which Meattey said will allow the department to refill in-station rather than driving to other county towns.

Old town records kept by the town clerk and the assessors office will be preserved and re-bound to the tune of $45,000, which Jacquelyn M. Boyden of the assessing department said will catch the two offices up on a backlog of records in need of help.

After extended discussion, residents granted the Selectboard authority to negotiate with the Hampshire Council of Governments a possible agreement to accept the government organization as a middleman in the residential electricity market.

Representing the Hampshire Council of Governments, Belchertown selectman Kenneth Elstein said the body already has 36 towns with signed agreements, representing 150,000 people. The HCOG aggregates buyers for a stronger negotiating position in purchasing electricity with the idea of driving down prices. If the selectmen sign an agreement, residents will have the option to opt out before it takes effect, Elstein said, and the maintenance of transmission lines and half the electric bill will continue to go to either National Grid or the Western Massachusetts Electric Co.

Also approved were the town budget, $3,013,265, the Franklin County Technical School budget at $305,302, and Erving Elementary School budget, $2,505,125. The budgeted figure for secondary education tuitions came to $852,341.

The only figures on the warrant to change were the $5,000 to print the town newsletter, increased to $7,500, and the sum for town savings, decreased $12,000 to $795,413.

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