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Firetruck still up to voters.

Byline: Kim Ring

SPENCER - Despite the unveiling of a plan that could allow the town to buy a new firetruck without a debt exclusion, it appears selectmen will ask voters to fund the request outside the limits of Proposition 2-1/2.

With Peter J. Durant, chairman of selectmen, opposed, other board members said they'd like to put the ladder truck request before voters and use some of the funds Mr. Durant would have spent on the truck to begin saving for repairs to Town Hall.

Last night, Mr. Durant had persuaded Town Administrator Paul J. Guida that his plan would work. With a combination of funds set aside annually for debt service and some bonding, he could rustle up enough to pay for the truck without seeking a debt exclusion.

But others argued that the truck is a one-time expense that would be better funded by a debt exclusion, while maintenance is a recurring issue that should be paid for with budgeted funds.

Selectman Seth W. Fancher said that he does not believe the new firetruck would serve his neighborhood near Stiles Reservoir because of its narrow, rough streets. Because a segment of the population won't benefit from the truck, he said, it should be put to a vote - though he favors making the purchase.

While he prefers to handle such items at the annual town meeting, Mr. Guida said, because the truck is a public safety matter he would be "throwing out" his rules if selectmen vote Monday to include the request on the ballot. He said buying the truck shows support for the town's volunteer firefighters, who should have safe equipment to use.

The new truck is expected to cost just over $1 million and wouldn't arrive for at least a year after funds are approved. Voters will first be asked to approve the funds at an October special town meeting, then in a ballot vote in November.

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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 22, 2008
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