Ambulance facility clears hurdle
Thursday, January 19, 2012
MILFORD – After a budget and bond hearing Monday night that lasted less than an hour, the town’s ambulance director said he is “cautiously optimistic” about a proposed ambulance facility.
He and other town officials say the facility is badly needed.
No one in the audience, made up mostly of town board members and town employees, asked any questions about the $2.2 million proposal to build a four-bay ambulance building at 21 Cottage St.
The plan has the unanimous support of selectmen.
The Advisory Budget Committee has not voted or even discussed the plan yet, said Chairman Matt Lydon, but it will probably do so at a work session later this month.
The committee’s support is usually considered vital for passage of a multi-million capital project.
Last year voters rejected two articles that would have been the first steps in building a new safety center for the Fire Department and the Ambulance Service on land between Nashua, School and Pine streets.
The Budget Committee opposed the two articles, saying the town should only focus on a new ambulance facility.
The need for a new ambulance building is considered essential because the town’s two ambulances are more than eight and 12 years old, and replacement vehicles will not fit into the bays in the current space in Town Hall.
Other appropriation warrant articles are a replacement for fire engine #4 and a back hoe for the public works department, both to be purchased under a lease/purchase agreement.
The first year payment for the fire truck would be $67,700 and the back hoe $26,300.
The new engine would replace a 1987 Pierce truck, which primarily supplies water when a fire is outside the hydrant district and shuttles water back and forth to the scene.
The life expectancy of the truck is 20 years, and repairing the old truck’s rust and other problems is not considered economical, fire officials told selectmen last year.
1.8 percent hike
The town operating budget of $11.7 million is a 1.8 percent increase and if it is defeated the default budget is only $39,000 less, Town Administrator Guy Scaife said.
If all warrant articles pass, the maximum total spending increase would be 2.5 percent, he said.
The wastewater treatment operating budget of $1.7 million is down by 2.4 percent, because there were several expensive projects last year, said Dave Boucher, the town’s water and wastewater superintendent.
The water department also shows a decrease, of 1.5 percent.
Bob Courage, one of the town’s water commissioners, talked about the search for new well sites, a process that takes about two years.
He also said commissioners are looking at retiring in a year or two the Prospect Hill storage tank, which dates back to the 19th century. The water tank is now “redundant” and needs possibly $400,000 worth of work, he said.
Budget Committee secretary Peg Seward asked why a petition warrant article asking for an increase in income limits for the elderly property tax exemption is not among the warrant articles reviewed Monday night, and Scaife said it does not involve appropriating any funds.