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Fire station up for debate at Warner town meeting

  • Warner residents cast their votes on a proposed municipal solar array during town meeting at Warner Town Hall on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz



Monitor staff
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

After years of planning and discussion, Warner residents will finally have to decide whether it’s time to build a new fire station.

But that’s not all they’ll be talking about at this year’s town meeting – the budget and a procurement committee will also catch the public’s interest when they meet this Saturday.

Hot topic: A new fire station would cost residents $2.75 million, with about $200,000 coming from the unassigned fund balance and $50,000 to be immediately raised through taxation. The rest would be bonded.

Discussion around building a new fire station has been tossed around for a while but didn’t take firm shape until 2015, when the Fire Station Building Review Committee took a serious look at the department’s needs. The town has tackled the project one piece at a time – buying the land at 148 West Main St. one year, doing the design the next, and so on.

Issues with the current building are numerous, according to the town’s website: The building is too small, forcing the town to purchase more expensive, custom-sized fire engines and to spread out its equipment over multiple buildings; there’s no parking or office space; it’s not ADA-compliant; there’s not enough training space or emergency operations space.

Budget: The proposed operating budget is $3,131,033, down $297,983 from last year’s approved budget of $3.4 million.

A major change is a total decrease in capital outlay expenditures, according to budget documents. That line item is going from last year’s approved amount of $358,530 to zero this year.

One area that would increase would be the highway and streets budget, which would go up by $39,497 if the budget is approved. A boost in revenue would come from $2.5 million worth of proceeds from long-term bonds and notes. The budget is recommended by the select board and the budget committee.

Noteworthy articles: Residents will have to decide if they wish to prohibit accessory dwelling units in townhouses or manufactured housing, an article that comes recommended by the town’s planning board.

They’ll also consider when to put $140,000 into a highway road construction capital reserve fund and $160,000 to the Department of Public Works capital reserve fund.

A petition warrant article would establish a three-person Procurement Committee. The committee’s role would be to assist the select board in reviewing any estimates, costs, contracts and expenditures that would exceed $25,000. A term would run three years. The article is not supported by the select board.

When and where: The town meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday at the town hall.