Lonsdale-Saylesville fire district holds first meeting, votes no tax increase

Lonsdale-Saylesville fire district holds first meeting, votes no tax increase

LINCOLN – In the first annual meeting since the Lonsdale-Saylesville fire district consolidation, the fire board voted to adopt no tax increase in 2018. At Monday’s meeting, they also unanimously approved a proposed operating budget of $1,248,833 for 2018, an increase of $342,233 over last year.

Almost every line of the budget increased since last year, a direct effect of the district merger, said board members. Despite this, the tax rate will remain the same at $1.47 per $1,000 for residential, $1.98 for commercial, $3.15 for tangible and $2.50 for auto.

At the end of the year, there were five full-time firefighters and 20 volunteers or call personnel. According to the board of personnel, four call firefighters left the department last year for full-time employment with other fire departments, and were replaced by four new call firefighters.

Fire Chief Robert Fisher said the personnel line in this year’s budget – $973,700, up from $668,534 in 2017 – includes the addition of one firefighter. The town will have one full-time and two call firefighters on duty per shift.

According to the fire chief’s report, the department responded to a total of 1,484 alarms in 2017: 594 in-district, 817 out-of-district, 73 mutual aid calls outside of Lincoln. The chief said the number of out-of-district calls is expected to decrease now that the merger is complete, leading to financial savings.

The Saylesville Fire Department has been doing “double duty” to service Lonsdale since 2015.

In 2017, the department responded to 811 emergency medical calls, 87 calls for “food on the stove,” 32 smoke scares, 25 structure fires and 31 “other” fires. Personnel also answered 66 public service calls and responded to 55 auto accidents in that time.

The second-highest numbers of calls, 153, were for alarm system malfunctions. The chief said these are mostly for businesses. The department also responded to 73 accidental false alarms.

The treasurer reported that the general cash fund was $1,397,038 at the end of 2017, with $456,885 in funds from the Lonsdale merger. The total unrestricted accounts totaled $1,043,942.

Four resolutions were approved at the meeting:

• The treasurer was granted authorization to obtain funds in anticipation of taxes, not to exceed $100,000 during the current fiscal year.

• The treasurer may borrow no more than $140,000 to purchase a new engine, contingent upon approval of a $347,000 grant request through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

• The treasurer was granted authorization to borrow no more than $7,000 from the Capital Reserve Account to purchase a new self-contained breathing apparatus, if the department receives a $144,600 FEMA grant.

• The treasurer was also given authorization to use no more than $60,000 to purchase a new utility vehicle.