ADAMS, Mass.— The Fire District membership voted to increase the district's size to the town's limits at the annual meeting bringing a new fire protection and street lighting charge to new members.
The Fire District flew through 19 articles in about a half-hour Tuesday and voted, without question, to expand the district so that all those receiving fire protection outside of the district's current overlay would now have to pay a fee.
"We've been asked by the members of the district. They would like to see those outside the district pay for fire protection," Prudential Committee Chairman Thomas Satko said after the meeting about Article 17. "So we're doing what our members of the district asked us to do."
Currently, the district is focused in the downtown area of Adams, and there are about 168 houses outside of the district. Although firefighters still respond to fires outside of the district, these residents do not pay any fees to the district.
Now, all property owners will be charged a semi-annual fee that, at this moment in time, is 91 cents per $1,000 valuation. The district also runs the Water Department but properties not on the water lines will not be charged for water.
The town is completely separate from the fire district, and Town Administrator Jay Green said the expansion can be done unilaterally from the town.
"There are specific provisions in Massachusetts General Law for a Fire District to expand," Green said. "It is the responsibility of the Adams Fire District to ensure that they are complying with any legal requirements and to communicate to the community the reasons why the Fire District wishes to expand so a healthy and informative conversation can take place in the proper venues."
Green added that without a fire district, fire protection services would fall to the town.
"Generally speaking, there are no ramifications to the operation of local town government. However, I think it is important for perspective and discussion that if there was no Fire District, local town government would be responsible for structural fire protection, and those costs would be covered by real estate tax as part of the town budget rather than a separate tax," Green said. "Therefore, it is worth asking the question, what is the value to the community in having a separate Fire District?"
The entire meeting passed with few questions or opposition with only one single no vote from the dozens of district members who attended the meeting held in the fire station.
Article 6 represented the proposed operating budget and asked members to appropriate $596,905.90 from district taxes.
Article 8 authorized the district to raise and appropriate $1,570,659.63 from rates for the Enterprise Fund and to pay loans maturing during the upcoming fiscal year
Article 5 set the salaries of district employees totaling $24,750.92.
Article 7 will allocate $5,000 from district taxes for the Adams support fee.
Article 9 allowed the district to place $40,000 of surplus revenue into the reserve fund and Article 10 drew $15,500 from the surplus revenue to purchase fire safety equipment. This amount will be fully reimbursed by the state.
Article 11 raises $100,000 from rates for the radio read meter replacement and Article 12 raises $10,000 from rates for the Cheshire PILOT Invoice.
Satko clarified that Cheshire is billing the district for the land it uses in Cheshire. This includes the well fields and land on West Road and Orchard Street.
Article 13 will appropriate from available funds $16,000 for an engineering review of the Greylock Glen and Article 14 will allow the district to pull $50,000 from the surplus account to go toward the Lead Service Line Inventory. This money will be reimbursed by the state.
Article 15 pulls $50,000 from stabilization to put toward a down payment on a new fire engine.
The same day, the Fire district held its election in which 72 voters cast ballots.
Richard Kleiner will return to the Prudential Committee with 55 votes and John Pansecchi will remain chief engineer with 56 votes.
David Lennon was voted in as first assistant engineer with 69 votes, Edward Capeless as second assistant engineer with 69 votes, Mark Therrien as third assistant engineer with 65 votes, and Dylan Grimes as fourth assistant engineer with 67 votes.
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Veterans Make Memorial Day Trek to War Memorial
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
Retired Navy Petty Officer Cindy Lacoste speaks at Sunday's Memorial Day observance.
ADAMS, Mass. — North County American Legion members made their way to the summit of Mount Greylock early on Sunday morning for their 89th pilgrimage to the state's War Memorial.
Speaker Cindy Lacoste, a retired petty officer with 22 years serving in the Navy and current member of the Department of Massachusetts Executive Committee of Women of the American Legion, spoke and recalled memories of fallen veterans.
"Memorial Day brings up so many memories to me, and I'm sure it does to you," she said. "But in 2003, I was deployed to the Middle East not knowing if I was going to make it back home. So the fact that I did, obviously, I'm forever grateful, and I want to make sure that I never forget the stories of those that didn't come back."
She recalled the story of a young soldier, Cindy Bowden, who was a freshman attending the University of Connecticut during the Gulf War.