THORNDIKE — A couple of weeks ago, townspeople voted to give Fire Chief Peter Quimby a raise. A few days later, selectmen rescinded the hike.

Quimby said the selectmen’s action defied the voice of the people.

“I’m not bitter about it,” Quimby said. “It’s not about ego. I’m 57 and retired and, believe me, I’m not in this for the money. This was about kicking the fire chief in the teeth and contradicting the will of the people.”

At Town Meeting on March 17, by a show of hands, voters approved an amended article to increase Quimby’s annual salary by $800 to $2,000.

At the March 21 selectmen meeting, First Selectman Jim Bennett and Second Selectman Larry Ward opted to return the third-year fire chief’s pay to $1,200, Bennet said. Newly elected Selectman Lisa Curra abstained from the vote.

Bennett said the decision was a matter of following the law. He said town attorney William Dale advised him in a letter that, according to state statute, only the selectmen can determine the fire chief’s salary unless a charter or ordinance states otherwise.

Quimby said he understood the law was on the selectmen’s side, but that “there’s legal, and then there’s ethical and moral.”

The fire chief said the 11-member volunteer fire department is better trained and better equipped than it has been for years.

“The more important thing is the townspeople voted to do something and they (selectmen) took it upon themselves to change it,” said Quimby.

Bennett said the time for Quimby, and any other department head, to talk with selectmen and the budget committee about salaries and budgets is during the budget-building process rather than at Town Meeting.

“I got two calls the other night thanking us for what we did,” Bennett said.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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