NORTHBOROUGH – Town Meeting members have voted to fund a replacement of a fire engine.
However, there were calls during Town Meeting to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the fire engine.
Appropriations Committee Chair Tim Kaelin said public safety is the “number one” reason to use ARPA funds, noting recent calls including the explosion in Berlin.
He said that two members of the Board of Selectmen along with the Finance Committee and former Town Administrator John Coderre recommended using ARPA funds for the fire engine.
“Three of them ignored that,” Kaelin said.
Article 17 specifically requested borrowing $900,000 for a new fire engine.
During Town Meeting, Fire Chief David Parenti said the engine is a 2005 model. In the past, Parenti has said that the engine is at the end of its useful life and due to be replaced.
During Town Meeting, some residents voiced support for the fire department, but advocated for using ARPA funds to help out taxpayers.
Another resident argued that residents said in the public ARPA sessions that they didn’t want to use these funds for capital improvement projects.
Selectman Julianne Hirsh, who had voted against using ARPA funds for the engine when it went before the board, said she would like to look at ways to use ARPA funds to generate funds, noting suggestions for economic development or solar.
Ultimately, Town Meeting voted to fund the engine.
Town Meeting also voted to fund a tight tank at the highway garage, three police cruiser replacements, repairs and painting to the exterior of the police station, a 20-ton dump truck, a one-ton truck, 15-ton dump truck, to complete the final phase of the supervisory control and data acquisition project and funds to repair the rear entrance of Zeh Elementary School.