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Hawley seeks $100,000 pumper truck from voters

HAWLEY — First, the Hawley Fire Department’s 1971 pumper truck was damaged beyond repair by Tropical Storm Irene, and now the town’s remaining pumper, built in 1981, has engine problems and water leaks.

That’s why special town meeting voters will be asked to OK the purchase of a later-model, used fire pumper, at a cost of up to $100,000. The special town meeting takes place on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., in the Town Office.

Some of the money for a replacement pumper will come from a fire department stabilization fund that was started for the eventual truck replacement, but it’s possible that the town will need a Proposition 21∕2 debt exclusion, so that the town could borrow the balance of the cost.

“We have set aside about $50,000, but it’s going to cost $60,000 to $100,000 to find a 15- to 20-year-old pumper,” said Fire Chief Greg Cox. A new pumper truck, he estimated, would cost between $250,000 to $400,000.

“This truck was bought secondhand in 1996,” he said of the 1981 pumper. “We hope to use this as a backup, but it’s becoming less and less reliable.”

Cox said he’s been looking for spare parts to repair the truck, “but they stopped making this engine 30 years ago.” He said the engine has cracks on the manifold and on cylinder heads. Three years ago, Cox said he warned selectmen that the pumper was faltering, and the town started saving money to replace it.

But this spring, after the annual town meeting, firefighters discovered water leaks from the pump to the tank, which affects the ability to refill the tank. “We made a repair,” said Cox, “but it’s still leaking. And — ultimately — we could have an engine failure.”

“Last time, it took us a year to find a suitable truck, so we need to start looking,” he added.

To ensure that the town has enough money for a replacement, special town meeting voters will be asked to authorize a tax-levy limit debt exclusion, as a contingency measure. A debt exclusion is a temporary tax hike to pay for a specific expenditure. The tax increase goes away after the debt has been paid off.

Spending requests to come from the town’s “free cash” unspent revenues include:

∎ $2,500 to the town buildings expenses account.

∎ $5,801 to the past fiscal year’s snow roads account.

∎ $15,000 to the Internet access account, for high-speed Internet in the Town Office.

∎ $300 to the All-Hawley River Day account.

∎ $10,000 to the highway equipment stabilization fund.

∎ $10,000 to the Fire Department equipment stabilization fund.

Voters are also asked to authorize repairing Tropical Storm Irene-related road damage on East Road and Forge Hill Road, using borrowed funds authorized for storm-damage repair in anticipation of reimbursement from state and federal emergency management agencies.

The last article seeks the town’s support for a constitutional amendment stipulating that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of people, and that unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns to influence election outcome is not a freedom-of-speech issue.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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