Two new commissioners elected to lead Pascoag Fire District; Budget tabled by voters

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From left, Attorney Christopher Alger, Moderator Raymond Trinque and Clerk Brad Provencial count votes to table the budget.

BURRILLVILLE – The Pascoag Fire District has two new commissioners to serve for the next three years following an annual meeting on Monday, Sept. 11 that saw incumbent Commissioners Raymond Trinque and Carmella White lose bids for another term.

The budget, meanwhile, was tabled to a date uncertain following questions from residents on elements in including legal fees.

Matthew Kane and David Carpenter – who previously served as commission chairman – were elected to fresh three-year terms with a respective 47 and 75 votes. Trinque – who received just 19 votes in his bid for re-election as commissioner – will continue to serve as moderator, a position he’s held since he was nominated on a temporary basis last year. Brad Provencial will continue to serve as clerk after running unopposed. Carmella White received 27 votes, losing her bid for an additional term.

The terms of the three additional commissioners; Chairman Christopher Toti, James Richard and Harold Carter, remain unexpired.

Chief Michael Dexter noted that runs for PFD over the past year are up 20 percent.

“We’ve been very busy,” Dexter said. “We are getting busier as a department.”

Commissioner Dennis Anderson presented the district budget, up $240,000 from last year’s fiscal plan, noting the increase is due to changes in staffing and the settlement of a lawsuit with several firefighters. The department, he noted, manned up to 7 person full time as part of a long term plan to reduce overtime. Now, he noted, the financial focus is replenishment of the district surplus.

“The big pieces come down to those two items,” Anderson said. “None of us like to pay more in taxes. But it is where we are.”

Some in attendance questioned the payment of attorney’s fees and the solicitor’s presence – or lack thereof – at various meetings.

Anderson noted the district had an “extraordinary amount of legal activity this year,” and paid $98,800 to legal counsel.

The treasurer pointed to items acquired to grants and other means over the past few years that were not financed by taxpayers including equipment and infrastructure upgrades totaling $635,000.

“I think everybody needs to understand the whole story,” Anderson said. “In four years we have essentially held the tax rate flat.”

Toti highlighted other recent district achievements including working with state officials on new building to house fire trucks at Zambarano Hospital, funding pensions and the implementation of a long-term vehicle replacement plan.

“By this time next year we hope to report to you that the district will be debt free,” Toti said.

Voters on Monday remained unconvinced, tabling the budget by a vote of 27-18.

The district must now hold a reorganizational meeting to elect leadership for the term, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 18.

Later, Toti told NRI NOW it is not yet clear if adjustments will be made to the fiscal plan. He noted that voters in Pascoag took similar action in tabling a budget around five years ago, which was later passed.

“People have reasons for making decisions and doing what they do,” he said, noting he believes the budget as presented is a solid plan.

“Our audits have been stellar,” Toti said.

The chairman noted that the commission will have to advertise for a second meeting to address the budget, expected to be held sometime in October.

Video of the full meeting can be found here.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I, Dennis Anderson, am an appointed treasurer and not a commissioner. The indication that $98,800 were paid in legal fees is out of context. The legal fees paid to the Fire District’s attorney are a quarter of that and in line with the budgeted amount.

    The lawsuit that was settled had an included amount for the Per diem employees attorney that amounted to $96,485.

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