Here's what's on the agenda for Dartmouth's fire district annual meetings

By Shenandoah Briere | Apr 30, 2018

Annual meetings for each of Dartmouth’s three fire districts are coming up in the next few weeks.

During the annual meetings, district residents can weigh in on the budget by voting via a show of hands. Each district’s meeting will include a vote on the fiscal year 2019 budget and other policies relating to the districts, which operate independently of the town.

Here’s what’s in store for each district:

Fire District No. 1.

Fire District No. 1’s annual meeting is on May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the 10 Bridge Street fire station.

The district Prudential Committee is proposing a $1.1 million budget, which is up by $177,005 from 2018. The increase will cause the district’s tax rate to increase from 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 44 cents per $1,000.

The biggest increase is to buy new air tanks, with a $275,000 price tag after taking $100,000 from surplus cash.

Firefighters’ hourly compensation is proposed to increase by $1. The deputy chief’s salary is proposed to increase by $2,000, the district clerk by $350, and the treasurer by $1,000.

Recruit stipends are proposed, which would give recruits $1,000 upon completion of firefighter training. The committee voted 2-1 to recommend the article for passage.

One item not on the budget this year is a recommendation for a full-time fire safety prevention officer. At a previous meeting, the board voted to remove the article until a long-range plan was established between the committee and Fire Chief Brad Ellis about the position.

Fire District No. 2.

Fire District No. 2’s annual meeting is May 14 at 7 p.m. at the 1100 Russells Mills Road fire station.

The 2019 budget proposal of $756,658 is a slight increase from last year, but there will likely be no major changes to the tax rate, according to Prudential Committee member Ralph Medeiros.

A general insurance increase is one of the few budget increases, which would be used for things such as better disability payments for firefighters. District bylaw changes are also proposed, including one that would allow current firefighters to serve on the committee.

Fire District No. 3

Fire District No. 3’s annual meeting is on May 7 at 7 p.m. at the 140 Cross Road station.

Fire District No. 3’s 2019 proposed budget has increased $703,387.65 from last year to $3.7 million. According to district treasurer Joan Brennan, this means both residents and businesses will see a small reflection on the tax rates. The district has a split tax rate between residential and commercial properties.

Brennan said two new programs on the proposed budget are designed to reduce fluctuations of the tax rate on a year-to-year basis. One would build up a fund to save up for replacement of air tanks. The district also hopes to start a capital improvement program to fund big-ticket purchases.

Outside of budget matters, voters will also be asked to approve sending papers to the state legislature seeking the affirmation of the clerk and treasurer’s position as appointed and not elected, after recent debate over the validity of the positions as being appointed.

Last month, after former clerk Joan Brennan resigned her position, it was discovered that the position might not have officially been changed from an elected to an appointed position in the early 2000s.

In 1999, district voters approved the change. It was approved by the state legislature but with the stipulation that the change must be approved at an official district election. No paperwork could be found verifying that election ever occurred.

The proposal would provide a backdrop as to how long the person can serve and whether they will receive a contract.

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