image description
Around 100 voters endorsed the Dalton Fire District's spending plans for fiscal 2025 at the annual meeting at the Stationery Factory.
image description
Fire District officials parry questions from voters.

Dalton Fire District Votes OK All Articles, Return Incumbents

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

Fire Chief Christian Tobin explains the Fire Department budget at Tuesday's annual district meeting. 
DALTON, Mass. — Voters approved all 22 articles on the warrant unanimously at the annual Fire District meeting on Tuesday night at the Stationery Factory.
 
Approximately 75 voters attended the meeting, which lasted a little more than a half hour, to vote on the proposed $3,524,680 budget for fiscal year 2025. 
 
The Fire District and town are two separate governing bodies. The Fire and Water departments are the Fire District's responsibility. The Board of Water Commissioners and the Prudential Committee govern the district.
 
A number of the budget hikes are caused by increases outside the district's control, specifically insurance, Water Commission Chair James Driscoll said during the meeting. 
 
Ambulance and fire proposed a combined budget of $1,873,608, up approximately $360,000. The department's increase is related to competitive wages and stipends, and personnel, all of which aim to improve the district's Property Protection Classification. 
 
In addition to that, just like the other department's in the district, insurance hikes contributed to the increases.
 
Article 9 raised $370,560 to pay the principal and interest on several district loans. 
 
Voter Henry Rose asked how much the total loan was and when it would be paid. This information was unavailable at the time of the meeting 
 
Driscoll clarified that the loans were for two 1.2 million-gallon water storage tanks, a $5 million loan for the dam at Windsor Reservoir, and the Elser Pump Station, which was built about 15 years ago and moves water around town. 
 
Each is on a 40-year federal loan with interest rates of between 1 and 2 percent, Driscoll said. 
 
Voter Todd Logan asked whether Article 13, appropriating $49,000 for the timber maintenance account, was related to the Forest Warden project with the town, which is evaluating investment in a forest warden truck. 
 
Driscoll said the district has a contract with New England Woodland Management to manage the forest areas that the district owns under the watershed.
 
"They're going to use $49,000 to do boundary markings and to set out cuttings for the future years, and we derive income from doing this," he said.
 
The district cut costs by combining the ambulance and Fire Department budgets. This new way of organizing will allow the district to track the departments' expenses, Fire Chief Christian Tobin said. 
 
One voter questioned the intent of Article 18, which was to appropriate $50,000 to fund building engineering. 
 
Tobin's said it was for an engineering firm to determine how to best utilize the space and make the building Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, which would give the district a better opportunity to get grant funding. 
 
"I think we need to make sure we explore [a possible building renovation] option and every other option before we come to the town to say we need a new building because if you take out a general bond, you will be paying on that for the next 20 to 25 years," Tobin said. 
 
"So, let's make sure we do a good thorough assessment of what we have and how we can utilize that space before we go and approach the community about building something that might cost us a lot more."
 
Voters approved the administration budget of $166,396, a $34,081 increase from last year. 
 
The leading factor in the increase is the insurance line item, which is going up by 58.25 percent, or $15,679, to approximately $42,594. 
 
The administration budget also includes an additional $10,000 to cover the additional hours the office assistant has worked. 
 
Voters approved the Water Department budget of $830,918, a $125,077, or 17.72 percent increase from last year. 
 
The water department's insurance hikes are the driving force behind its increases. The district budgeted $240,050 for the department's insurance, a $60,116, or 116.16 percent increase from last year.  
 
Superintendent Bob Benlien requested a $30,000 line item for meters. The district will continue to budget for meters until all have been changed. 
 
Benlien also requested a $10,000 increase for overtime, projected at $50,000. 
 
Elections 
 
The district's annual election also took place Monday with just over 100 voters casting ballots.
 
The offices up for election were one member of the Board of Water Commissioners for three years, one member of the Prudential Committee for three years, and one moderator and one auditor, each for one year. 
 
The Board of Water Commissioners was the only race, with incumbent Michael Kubicki winning with 84 votes. 
 
"I'm just going to continue what we've been doing right along. Continue with the good progress we've been making and keep moving forward," Kubicki said. 
 
Kubicki's challenger, Ken Sagendorph, received 25 votes. The voters decided that they want things to remain the same, Sagendorph said. "I'm fine. Who knows what the future will bring." 
 
Prudential Committee incumbent Thomas Murray received 97 votes, and incumbent Moderator Anthony Doyle received 100 votes. 

Tags: fire district,   

If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at info@iberkshires.com.

Post 68 Juniors Shut Out North Adams

By Leland BarnesiBerkshires.com Sports
PITTSFIELD , Mass — A monster fifth inning led the Post 68 Juniors to a 4-0 win against North Adams Post 125 in American Legion baseball action on Saturday at Buddy Pellerin Field.
 
Late in the game for Post 68, a rally started which led to their ultimate victory.
 
A combination of hits from Derek Roy, David Wildgoose and, Ethan O’Donnell resulted in two of Post 68’s runs scored.
 
On the bump, Gavin and Ethan O’Donnell combined for seven strikeouts.
 
“Today was a hot one,” Ethan said, “Had to work consistently and get flyouts and groundouts.”
 
And the pair combined to allow just three total hits.
 
In the shutout Post 68’s defense was on point the entire game, only allowing two errors on missed throws to first base.
 
View Full Story

More Pittsfield Stories