SOUTH THOMASTON, Maine — Town meeting voters gave their backing Tuesday night to the town buying a new firetruck.
Despite opposition from some residents, including a former fire chief, residents voted 81-45 to have the town spend up to $350,000 for a new pumper truck. The truck will replace a 25-year-old truck that has about 15,000 miles on it.
Fire Chief Bryan Calderwood said despite claims by some, the truck was needed and not just wanted by the department. Calderwood said national fire standards call for replacing trucks when they turn 30 years old. If the town waits for this truck to turn 30, it will have two trucks that will need to be purchased.
Former Selectman Jeff Northgraves said the fire chief and a committee he created have been working on getting a good deal for the town. If the town waits until the current pumper dies, the town will likely not get that deal.
Calderwood said the committee has worked since last year, when a $450,000 truck was not approved, to reduce the cost of the truck to $350,000.
The overall expenses for municipal operations for 2014 were approved with little opposition at $1,093,967, nearly 10 percent ($98,553) more than the approved 2013 budget. The increase is due largely to $105,000 budgeted for road paving.
One resident sought an across-the-board 4 percent cut in expenses, voicing concern about the uncertainty of what the school budget will require from town taxpayers. Residents nearly unanimously rejected that proposal.
The amount of property taxes to be raised will be down by about 2 percent. The road paving, for example, will be covered by a reserve account as well as increased excise tax revenues.
The tax rate for the town will not be known until after the Regional School Unit 13 budget is approved by voters, likely in June.
In municipal elections, former Selectman Cheryl Waterman was overwhelmingly elected to the board as a write-in candidate, besting two candidates who had submitted nomination papers. Waterman received 78 votes compared to 48 for Moira Paddock and nine for Sonja Sleeper.
South Thomaston elects its municipal candidates by written ballot from the floor of the town meeting.
Incumbent Christine Curtis was re-elected to represent the town on the RSU 13 board. She received 74 votes and was the only person who submitted nomination papers.