PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Town Council agreed this week to borrow $1.25 million for road paving, bridge and culvert work and equipment for the Fire Department.

The council held a public hearing Tuesday on an ordinance allowing the town to borrow up to $2.09 million for capital improvement projects, including $1 million for road paving, $70,000 for bridge and culvert repairs, $600,000 to buy a fire truck, $180,000 to buy a dump truck, $60,000 to buy a truck for the town’s Highway Department and $180,000 for self-contained breathing sets for town firefighters.

After hearing concerns from residents about how a large loan could impact Pittsfield’s property tax rate, councilors approved the ordinance, but agreed they did not want one loan for all of the projects. Instead, they decided to take out one loan for the road paving, bridge and culvert repairs and breathing equipment for firefighters because the projects or gear are urgently needed.

“I want to see it done in a responsible way, where we’re not setting records on our mill rates on taxes just to get the newest shiny, best things, but to do it the right, scrappy, small way, because we are a small, scrappy town,” a resident said at the meeting.

By approving the overall ordinance for all the projects, the other items — the dump truck, Highway Department truck and fire truck — can still move forward, but would be brought back before the Town Council at a later date.

“Everything that’s on here would have to get approved by us again,” Councilor Jason Hall said.

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Town officials plan to work on road paving and bridge and culvert work this summer, so the application for the loan must be submitted soon.

Chief Bernard Williams said the Fire Department’s breathing equipment is in poor condition, and the department is paying for repeated repairs, prompting councilors to address the issue immediately.

Councilors questioned if the Fire Department needs 20 sets of breathing equipment, and if it would be possible to stagger the purchases, buying fewer at a time to avoid an expensive purchase.

Williams said the department needs 20 sets to meet regulations, and the purchase cannot be staggered because the technology on the equipment is always being updated, so having sets from different years could create training issues and make the gear difficult to use.

The Town Council chose to apply for a 10-year repayment period for the loan to reduce the town’s interest expense, and because the life of the equipment is about 15 years. Councilors said they did not want to be paying on the loan after the equipment is no longer usable.

In other matters, Mayor Michael Cianchette presented a plaque to former Councilor Tim Nichols to thank Nichols for the 24 years he served on the Town Council, making him the longest-serving councilor in Pittsfield history.

“It’s just a minuscule item of our appreciation for what you’ve done for this town, and we can’t put a value to it,” Cianchette said. “We can’t say how much you’ve been appreciated, and it’s been an honor for me personally to serve with you.”

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