Woodstock selectmen support WFD/GFD staffing plan
A new plan for Woodstock Fire Department staffing, when combined with expected higher maintenance costs, would increase the department’s annual budget from $45,000 to approximately $80,000, selectmen learned Tuesday.
The board agreed Tuesday to put the plan, which proposes shared staffing of fire stations between Woodstock and Greenwood, before voters at the next annual Town Meeting.
The plan calls for staffing the two towns' fire stations utilizing two firefighters, one an officer and one a firefighter. The pair would spend one day at Woodstock, the next day at Greenwood, and so forth through the week.
The arrangement would alleviate a shortage of firefighters available in town to respond to fires, Chief Geff Inman said. Hours would average 20 per week, at $11 an hour, for a total estimated annual cost to the town of $26,000.
The plan was first proposed at the last board meeting. After reviewing it, selectman Ron Deegan said he supported the idea.
Selectman Rick Young agreed. “You don’t have much choice. You need people,” he said.
(Selectman Bruce Korhonen did not attend Tuesday's meeting.)
Deegan wondered if the shared staff plan might be expanded to include other towns.
“We could,” said Inman. “If we need to fill, we’ll go beyond Woodstock and Greenwood.”
Inman said he would propose $30,000 for the first year. “We’ll have some startup costs,” he said.
And, he said, with other routine costs, such as new tires for fire trucks, next year’s overall WFD budget proposal will likely be around $80,000.
Inman also updated the board on a proposal by the Northern Oxford Mutual Aid Association to establish a firefighter training program at the Region 9 Vocational Center in Mexico.
He said the Region 9 board had considered it and is in support of the idea. A half-time teacher would be hired under the Region 9 budget (in which SAD 44 shares), if the program is approved for next school year.
Inman said a survey of students had been done at Telstar High School, and about two dozen expressed interest.
The board clarified a discussion they held last week regarding the future of buildings in Bryant Pond. They emphasized they had no proposals for the Masonic Hall, which had come up as discussion only as the result of a citizen suggestion.
“We are not interested in the Masonic Hall,” said Town Manager Vern Maxfield.
The board is, however, interested in putting the future of the old fire station before voters. The station had been set up as a Recreation Center, but its only recent use has been for team registrations.
Maxfield said he had been contacted by an individual who had contributed funds toward renovating the station about eight years ago. The person said he was against selling the building, Maxfield said.
But Maxfield told the contributor his donation would be reimbursed should the building be sold. The issue will go to voters at Town Meeting. “I think the taxpayers should make the decision,” Deegan said.
In other business, Maxfield told the board that the proposed 2011 state valuation of towns shows Woodstock’s would decline to $171,850,000 from the previous figure of about $175 million.