South Thomaston to buy new fire truck, elects Waterman
South Thomaston — South Thomaston residents approved a $1 million budget and gave the Board of Selectmen authorization to purchase a new fire truck at the March 25 town meeting.
The proposal to purchase a new truck was rejected last year. South Thomaston Fire Chief Bryan Calderwood said after last year's vote, the department went back to the drawing board and knocked $100,000 off the cost of the truck. Calderwood said the addition of a new truck is necessary because the 1989 model, the oldest in the fleet, needs to be replaced. The National Fire Protection Association recommends vehicles be replaced after 30 years of operation, he said.
The approval, 81 to 45, gives the select board permission to purchase a new truck valued up to $350,000. The expenditure will be funded by $244,200 from the town’s fire truck replacement reserve fund, $10,000 in an anticipated donation, $5,000 from a trade in allowance or sale, and by borrowing $90,800. Town Clerk John Spear said a two-year lease purchase agreement would cost roughly $3,600, and a three-year lease would cost $5,200 in interest.
The board's proposed 2014 budget includes a decrease of $14,150, or 2.41 percent in the amount of property taxes required to fund town operations, even though total municipal expenditures are slated to increase by $98,553, Spear said.
The increase is in large part from $105,000 in anticipated road paving costs, which are to be funded in part by $70,000 from the town’s paving reserve fund. Projected increases of approximately $40,000 in automobile excise taxes and other revenues contribute to the property tax decrease, he said.
Spear cautioned the overall property tax levy will not be known until the town’s assessment from Regional School Unit 13 is issued after the school district's budget is finalized. Spear noted the district's assessment comprises approximately 80 percent of the town’s property tax levy.
Voters also approved setting aside an estimated $15,000 to have an outside stairway constructed at the fire station that leads to the outside from the training room. As the building is designed now, two stairways lead into the basement. Calderwood said the building has been out of compliance since 1972, as one stairway is required to lead out of the building in case of emergency. The town could face a $20,000 fine if construction is not done, he said. The training room holds 30 to 50 people.
A write-in candidate for the select board, Cheryl Waterman, was elected to serve for a term of three years, receiving 78 votes. Contenders Moira Paddock received 48 votes, and Sonja Sleeper had 9 votes.
Incumbent Regional School Unit 13 board representative Christine Curtis was reelected to the position with 74 votes. She was the only person who filed nomination papers for the seat.
More than 100 people attended the hour and a half meeting.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.