The Weston Volunteer Fire Department found itself in need of new hoses. But with a zero percent increase in spending, it had to seek out a novel way to pay for them. "A lot of our hoses are probably 25 years old," Fire Chief John Pokorny said at the Feb. 3 Board of Selectmen meeting. "Right now, I'm about 10 lengths of hose short."
In past years, the department budgeted for replacement hoses, but "we haven't really been able to do that for the last few years," Pokorny said. "We're trying to keep our budget to a minimum, and now I'm kind of in a jam with it."
The selectmen voted unanimously to make a special $16,000 supplemental appropriation for the fire department to purchase its new hoses.
The process of obtaining approval for the expenditure was difficult for the fire department, which was among the many town departments asked to keep its budget increase to zero percent for the next fiscal year. "Some of the costs that are non-equipment have gone up, fuel oil, insurance," Pokorny added. "So actually our equipment line has gotten quite a bit smaller to cover the expenses that have nothing to do with firefighting. ... It's been a challenge to try and stay within the zero increase budget."
This is the third consecutive year that the fire department has not increased its spending.
So Pokorny came up with a novel idea. He approached the capital committee and asked whether the new hoses could be included in that budget. The idea was dropped. But First Selectman Gayle Weinstein turned to the Board of Finance, which established a capital nonrecurring fund composed of money that is transferred from remaining balances in other funds. Normally this money is transferred back to the general fund.
"When I heard about the state of these hoses, I thought this was the perfect use of this fund," Weinstein said.
The $16,000 in spending for hoses will reduce the capital nonrecurring fund to $62,000, said town Administrator Tom Landry . "This is the first year that money has gone into the fund," Landry said.
What do you think about the selectmen's decision? Is this a good use of town resources? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below.