CHELSEA — The town is facing a significant expenditure to replace or fix the Fire Department’s tanker truck, which recently developed a leak, but the problem isn’t expected to hamper firefighting efforts.

The $275,000 price tag for a replacement truck the department is eying exemplifies why the capital investment program the town is looking to implement would be helpful, Town Manager Scott Tilton said.

Tilton presented a draft of the program Wednesday night to the Board of Selectmen. It would list potential capital expenditures, prioritize them and propose methods of funding.

The hope would be that the town could better plan for expenditures, like the fire tanker, and have a plan in place when a need arose, Tilton said.

With only about $26,000 in the firetruck reserve account, the town would only be able to afford the $275,000 tanker through a lease-purchase plan with payments of $45,000 a year for eight to 10 years, Tilton said.

“That’s part of the reason the capital improvement plan would have been a good thing to have,” he said.

The plan would be used for capital expenditures of more than $5,000 and with useful lives of five years or longer.

The Budget Committee, which would prioritize the capital investment lists, will review the plan at its next meeting in September, Tilton said.

The draft of the program’s handbook calls for the bulk of the work to be finished by November.

The Budget Committee would recommend the capital investment lists to the selectmen, who would propose funding for voters to review at the June Town Meeting.

Tilton said he sees the capital investment program as a way to remove town politics from purchasing decisions.

The plan is a more formal approach that includes evaluation criteria such as general planning impact, readiness, feasibility, social impact, economic impact and community effect. The final approval still would come down to the voters.

The tanker has a 28-year-old steel tank put on the truck year ago, and it’s showing signs of deterioration, according to Fire Chief Shawn Ramage.

Ramage said in an email that the department relies on the tanker to provide water because there are no hydrants in the town. He said the tanker needs to be replaced in the near future.

“The loss of the truck would significantly impact our ability to fight fires in our community and provide mutual aid to surrounding communities,” Ramage wrote. “The fire department and members also understand the issue around taxes, but also feel the truck and its ability to help extinguish fires is important and want to make our residents aware of the impending issues.”

The Augusta Fire Department also sometimes calls for Chelsea’s tanker as one of the two to three tankers usually requested for fires outside the Augusta hydrant system, according to Augusta Fire Department Deputy Chief Dave Groder.

No decision has been made on how the fire tanker will be repaired or replaced. Tilton said the town also is looking into an Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for a truck.

He said it’s also possible the town could buy a used truck from another town.

The Board of Selectmen also approved spending $2,200 for upgrades to assessing software at its Wednesday night meeting. Tilton said the funding was part of the approved budget for the revaluation.

The selectmen reappointed several people to positions at their meeting as well.

The board reappointed Scott Tilton as town manager, treasurer, tax collector, road commissioner and other town positions; Lisa Gilliam as town clerk, registrar of voters, public access officer and deputy positions; Shawn Ramage as fire chief and emergency management director; Chris Martinez as animal control officer; and Gary Quintal as code enforcement officer, local health officer, plumbing inspector and E911 addressing officer.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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