It's a fire sale in Lonsdale

It's a fire sale in Lonsdale

LINCOLN – It’s fire sale time at the Lonsdale Fire District.

Board members here, who have continued to work together without pay for more than a year, are seeking the expert who can come to the station and assign a value on the district’s inventory of gear, vehicles and equipment.

Though the bill that would have allowed the financially crippled Lonsdale district to surrender its charter to Saylesville was never heard by the Rhode Island General Assembly mid-June, Michael Babbitt of the board explained he’s confident Bill H 8179 will go through in January 2017, when the General Assembly meets again. But in the meantime, the board is taking any steps it can to move the dissolution process along.

Saylesville may be interested in purchasing the newer of the station’s two fire trucks and the chief’s truck, Babbitt said, and the board is still looking to sell one fire truck and, with an attorney’s help, determine how the station can sell an ATV vehicle, which is under a bond.

Babbitt explained that the board of wardens has the authority to sell or purchase materials for the station, so long as the finances are reported.

At the Lonsdale Fire meeting last week, Babbitt said, another contract with Saylesville for fire services was voted on.

The monthly cost for Saylesville to cover Lonsdale’s calls is now $30,000 a month, double what the district had been paying in the past.

As previously reported in The Breeze, Saylesville had been asking for lesser payments than what is typically owed for fire services because of Lonsdale’s financial downfall last year.

The contract, Babbitt explained, was renewed for two years. He explained that contract payment will be split in two. In cash, Saylesville will receive $15,000 monthly. The other half of Lonsdale’s payment to Saylesville, will be covered by the value of the equipment.

Babbitt said this way, once Lonsdale is given an inventory value list, the two districts will be able to determine how much is still owed using the leftover funds. He said this will help the Lonsdale station, “just to make sure we make it through the rest of the year financially.”

Lonsdale and Saylesville are also working to see if tax collections can be processed at the Saylesville station alone, where the office is open between eight to 10 hours a day, Babbitt said.

Currently, the Lonsdale building is only open for two hours, and both districts have the same tax collector, David Almond. Babbitt explained the board’s attorney is making sure this can be done legally.

“It makes it easier for everybody to do business that way,” he said. Babbitt pointed out that Lonsdale will have to get special insurance bonding to get that squared away, which is $50 a year.

Babbitt told The Breeze he believes the Lonsdale station will be cleared out come Jan. 2017, by the time the General Assembly hears the H 8179 bill. He said he hopes the town will start discussing the purchase of the Lonsdale station building, but it’s still premature in the process.

Asked if he’s heard from frustrated Lonsdale residents, Babbitt said, the general refrain is simply that the people of the district want to see the matter resolved.

“There’s no decline in dedication of what we’re doing,” Babbitt said of the Lonsdale Fire board.