Turners Falls Fire District approves all articles

Staff Writer
Published: 4/18/2019 6:34:02 PM
Modified: 4/18/2019 6:33:52 PM

MONTAGUE — With unanimous approval of the 18-article warrant, a $3 million budget was approved for the Turners Falls Fire District at its annual meeting Tuesday.

Other articles include a paving project and exhaust upgrades at the fire station, as well as water meter upgrades for the Water District. 

For the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2020, the $3,021,457 budget will be composed of $2,361,604 from taxation, $50,000 from ambulance revenue and $609,853 from water revenue.

The budget is about a 6.6 percent increase from the current fiscal year. The 2019 budget of $2,826,952 has $2,193,695 from taxation, $38,500 from ambulance revenue and $594,757 from water revenue.

According to  Eileen Tela. district accountant for the Turners Falls Fire District, based on the 2019 tax rate, which is $2.94 for residential and $4.21 for commercial/industrial, with an additional $100,000 it would be an increase of 13 cents for residential and 20 cents for commercial industrial.

However, Tela said the budget increase is roughly $200,000 rounded up, so the estimated increase would be 26 cents for residential and 40 cents for industrial. So the estimated increase for an average $200,000 home, would be $52 and $80 for industrial.

Tela said the estimate is conservative and based off of the current fiscal year’s tax rate.

The articles for capital expenditures were explained to voters as well. 

Turners Falls Fire Chief John Zellmann explained the request for $40,000 for driveway repairs at the fire station will be taken from free cash.

“The driveway at the fire department is sinking. My hopes is to have it done in two phases,” Zellmann said. “The first phase it to reinforce concrete in front of all of the doors. With the construction of the Public Works Facility, they’ll have to put down blacktop next year, and they’ll have to regrade the back driveway anyway. My hope is they’ll do that for us while they’re there.”

The exhaust system upgrades of $25,500 at the Fire Department will add three dropdowns inside of the fire station, according to Zellmann. 

“This is for three more dropdowns in the firehouse which pull particles and exhaust out,” Zellmann said. “OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is pushing harder and harder for these, so the three dropdowns will connect to the others as well as other upgrades to the system.”

Water Superintendent Michael Brown explained the upgrades to the meter systems.

He proposed an amended $30,000 for upgrades to the water metering system from the water surplus account from the original proposal of $20,000. The extra $10,000 is from the water surplus.

Brown said the meters are read using a handheld radio receiver which can be read three different ways –  using a radio on the meter at a residence; a touchpad or an ARB box which is older and has pins inside and handheld device plugs into it and get a reading.

The problem is that the handheld devices are not made to read the ARB boxes anymore, so the ARB boxes have to be replaced.

“We have approximately 1,400 of them,” Brown said. “So our plan is to purchase radios. We have to go to a house, take the box off, rewire the box to the radio, put it on the wall and we’re ready to go.”

The $30,000 will pay for 277 radios. With some allocations from Brown’s budget, he said he hopes to get 300 radios installed.

He said he will back next year to make another request as well.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 263.

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