Weston voters to decide on fire truck financing; zoning admin hopefuls await new job description

By Bruce Frauman
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Weston Select Board will be asking voters to decide whether to approve financing for a new fire tanker at Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 7.

The Weston Volunteer Fire Department made the case for replacing the 1987 tanker, which can only pump about 40 percent of its 1000 gallon per minute rating on Dec. 13 and the board decided to put it on the warning at its Jan. 10 meeting.

Fire chief Wes Hupp at the Dec. 13 Weston Select Board meeting Chester Telegraph photo

Weston Fire Chief Wes Hupp told The Telegraph that the 1987 tanker is a “liability” and will probably just sit at the fire station until its replacement is delivered. Hupp said it has caught fire twice, that the steering is “funky” and it no longer pumps to National Fire Protection Association standards.

The department relies on trucks meeting the standards through mutual aid from the Londonderry fire departments and elsewhere. The department also has a “half million dollar” attack engine — the main engine — and a small attack engine built on a Ford F450 base that it uses for vehicle accidents, forest fires and to be first on the scene when road conditions are bad.

Select Board chair Denis Benson

As the town looks into asking for up to $110,000 from Vermont’s Municipal Equipment Loan Fund, Board chair Denis Benson read from an article published in The Chester Telegraph quoting John Booth of the State Treasurer’s office, which administers the fund. Booth had said that while select boards can borrow for the fire truck, this is not as clearly defined in statute as borrowing for road equipment. And so a town lawyer will generally advise the Select Board to put the loan to a vote.

“When I look at a loan application,” said Booth, “one thing I look for is the result of a town meeting article or special vote.”

At the Dec. 13 board meeting, Weston Fire Chief Hupp gave the board a reprint of a Vermont League of Cities and Towns Reprint article citing conditions under which a select board can borrow money without voter approval including “for the purchase of construction, fire, emergency or heavy equipment vehicles.” Hupp said the board had this information in June when the Fire Department first asked for the board to apply for a loan. Hupp said since June there has been a 6.5 percent price increase from truck supplier KME, and that the town will “pay the penalty” for waiting to order the truck. Chris Thwaits of KME will hold the price of $327,112 through March 12, according to Hupp and Benson.

Town Clerk/Treasurer Kim Seymour said the town has $252,000 in the Fire Apparatus Fund after the 2016 appropriation of $35,000. The new fire truck is expected to cost $327,112, Hupp said, estimating a loan in the range of $35,000 to $45,000 to fill the gap. Seymour calculated the loan need would be closer to $75,000, but could be less since the fund is in an interest bearing account.

Zoning admin candidates wait for job description; paving bids questioned

Board member Charles Goodwin

Select Board administrative assistant Cheryl Barker asked the board what she should tell the two applicants for the zoning administrator position who have repeatedly called her. Board member Charles Goodwin said he was waiting for a new job description to be finalized. Once the language is agreed upon, Goodwin and Board member Annie Fuji’i will represent the  board in the interview process with members of the ZBA and the Planning Commission.

Ann Fuji’i, Almon Crandall and Bruce Downer

Due to a large difference between bids from Pike Industries and Wilk Paving for a shim coat and top coat for Chester Mountain Road and Lawrence Hill Road, the board asked Barker to have VTrans project manager Mark Pickering review them. The Pike bids totaled $216,470 and the Wilk bids totaled $164,751, a $51,719 difference.

Barker told the board that a review by the town’s insurance company recommended that a monitored alarm be installed at the town garage. Seymour believes this is necessary mostly because other garages have been broken into and equipment stolen. Barker said that Roads Superintendent Almon Crandall was concerned that temperature sensors would trigger the alarm in cold weather. Crandall at times welds in cold weather and leaves the doors open. Benson asked Barker to ask the companies bidding on the alarm if a master switch could be added to the system and to ask the insurance company if the town’s rate would be reduced if the alarm system were to be installed.

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