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Monday, March 5, 2012

Town pushes for new facility

MILFORD – The new ambulance facility that will be on the March 13 town ballot is badly needed, town officials say, but it’s going to come at a price.

The current facility, located on the bottom floor of Town Hall, is too small to meet current needs, officials say, and new ambulances that will one day replace the town’s two aging vehicles will not fit in the old bays.

The $2.2 million proposal in Article 3 needs a 60 percent majority vote.

Twice before voters turned down plans for a combined fire/ambulance emergency complex, so plans were scaled down to an ambulance-only building, because the ambulance service’s needs are considered paramount.

Ambulance Director Eric Schelberg said the need to replace the 37-year-old facility on Middle Street is critical.

“Our facility was designed for ambulances from the mid-70s,” he said, and the space has many deficiencies, including lack of a training area, a too-small bunk area, and no way to exhaust vehicle fumes and wash the ambulances.

A paramedic response vehicle must be parked outside because there is no bay for it.

The new facility is designed with four bays and will serve the community’s needs for at least 30 years, according to the Community Facilities Committee, which unanimously backs the proposal.

The four-bay building would be located at 66 Elm St., where Harvey’s Music is now.

The ambulance building article would have a tax impact of 15 cents per thousand, or $30 on a $200,000 house.

Also on the town ballot are 28 other warrant articles, including a $11.7 million operating budget, replacement of the fire department’s Engine 4, and a new backhoe for the Department of Public Works.

Much smaller articles, however, for July Fourth fireworks and the conservation land fund, inspired more discussion at the Feb. 4 Deliberative Session.

Selectmen Gary Daniels argued that fireworks shouldn’t be funded and the conservation land fund and social services articles should be cut to make up for the unexpected cost of repairing the Jennision Road bridge, a $18,000 warrant article.

Voters at the Deliberative Session, however, rejected amendments that would have reduced the articles.

On the school side, there are only two significant articles on the district warrant: a $36.3 million school operating budget, an increase of slightly more than 1 percent, and a contract for support staff that would have a net cost of $8,700.

The two school articles would mean a tax rate increase of 61 cents, or $1.22 on a $200,000 house.

The School Board and the Budget Committee essentially agreed with all aspects of the budget and the collective bargaining agreement with the Milford Educational Support Staff Association.

There are two races for town positions this year. Incumbent Selectman Gary Daniels, Kevin Federico and Mark Fougere are running for two seats on the Board of Selectman. Chairman Nate Carmen did not seek a second term.

There are also two people looking to fill a position on the board of cemetery trustees: Gil Archambault and Mary Dickson.

No one is challenging School Board Vice Chairman Peter Bragdon.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@cabinet.com.