GILFORD — The town has been given its court hearing date and now has a few weeks to prepare its case to convince a judge that an emergency town meeting should be held to reconsider a warrant article to purchase a new fire truck.
Town officials will go before a Belknap County Superior Court judge on July 6 at 1:30 p.m., hoping that the judge will agree to the town’s petition for the meeting.
“I think we feel there is somewhat of a presumption that we have a need for an emergency meeting,” said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.
The town has been trying for several months to replace its 25-year-old fire truck, Engine 4, which a state police inspection deemed unsafe due to problems with its pump, brakes, tires, electrical system and other components in April.
The fire department asked voters to approve $450,000 to purchase a replacement truck at town meeting in March, but voters defeated the article, 915 to 709.
After that vote, the town tried to get by with Engine 4, but a local repair shop said it would cost at least $50,000 to fix it. City officials in neighboring Laconia have made one of the city’s backup engines available to Gilford.
If the judge approves the emergency town meeting, a date would be set for a hearing on the issue, and a vote.
The town’s question to the voters would be slightly different, asking voters to approve a 10-year payment program of approximately $50,000 per year, Dunn said. The total cost of the lease-purchase plan is very similar to the cost of an outright purchase, he said.
There has been opposition to the fire truck purchase from residents. Before the vote in March, the Budget Committee voted split 6-6 against recommending a new truck while selectmen voted 3-to-0 against the purchase.
Residents wishing to speak at the hearing must file a written notice of appearance with the court and with the board of selectmen, Dunn said,
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Dan Seufert may be reached at email@example.com.