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January 29. 2013 10:46PM

Ambulances, sidewalks among hot topics in Milford

MILFORD - Two new ambulances, a sidewalk project on Nashua Street and a $12.4 million operating budget will be the topics of discussion at Milford's deliberative session.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, at 9 a.m. at the Milford Town Hall auditorium, the town's deliberative session will kick off with a request for $286,000 for 1,600 feet of sidewalk along Nashua Street near the intersection of Ponemah Hill Road. The project has already hit a roadblock because the board of selectmen doesn't support the article, while the town's budget advisory committee has yet to offer its opinion.

The next item up for deliberation will be the town's operating budget, proposed at $12,405,693, which according to Town Administrator Guy Scaife is a 4.8 percent increase over last year's budget.

"Nearly 73 percent of that increase is part of the default budget and represents contractual items we have no control over," said Scaife. From increased health insurance costs to the downshifting of retirement costs from the state to the towns, the majority of the increase in the operating budget is nondiscretionary, Scaife said.

There are also increases in the budget that are offset by increased revenue, including additional ambulance department staff brought in to handle contract work, said Scaife. The operating budget doesn't reflect the fact that the ambulance service has actually returned more than $55,000 to the town in profit since it started contracting out its services.

And with a new ambulance facility set to be built this spring, the town is ready to ask taxpayers to fund two new ambulances. The total purchase price over seven years is $324,000, but the town will be asked only to fund the first year installment of $49,700 this year.

"These ambulances are ancient and should have been replaced several years ago, but we didn't have the facility to house the new ones," said Scaife. With the new ambulance facility ready to be built, the time has come to replace the vehicles.

"We have a lot of support for this warrant article because people understand how important it is that we have new ambulances," Scaife said.

The town is also seeking funding for a new dump truck, which it would pay for in $25,000 installments over the course of five years.

"That dump truck is a critical need," said Scaife.

If all of the warrant articles pass, the tax rate is expected to climb around 4.6 percent, Scaife said.

nfoster@newstote.com


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