By NEIL ZAWICKI
The Milton Selectboard on Monday approved a new capital improvement plan, wrestled with an ambulance repair problem, and learned the chicken barbecue would not be coming back to the Forth of July celebration.
Milton Fire Chief Chris Poirier, when applying for the entertainment permit for the Forth of July celebration – a joint effort between the town and the Volunteer Firefighters Association (VFA), announced the chicken barbecue portion of the day – a tradition at least 15 years old, would not be coming back this year.
“This year we decided not to do the chicken barbecue, because the profit just wasn’t really there,” he said.
What this means for the celebration is that more food options will likely be available, as
Poirier said he has reached out to more food vendors to offset the lack of barbecued chicken.
Additionally, Poirier asked the board to consider more efficient ways to display the American Flag during the parade, and said funding for the fireworks display would need to be bolstered.
“We do need to replace our flag, that’s the big thing,” he said. “It’s about a $700 cost every year. So we’re looking for a better way to suspend the flag across route 7, so it doesn’t get all covered with grease.”
Speaking of the fireworks display, Poirier said he was sure the display can continue at the level it has been in the past without another revenue source.
As it stands, the town pays half of the expenses for the celebration, $3,500, and the VFA pays the other half.
Town Manager Don Turner said the town after July will revisit it’s financial commitment to the event.. “We’re probably going to find a way where the Town has a bigger contribution,” he said.
Board member Michael Morgan said the volunteer firefighters are already called upon by the community, and that their efforts to produce the celebration on the Forth can be lot to ask.
“The parade has been part of what we do,” said Poirier. “But it’s the financial part of it, and we rely on our bingo. The bingo has not been that good, so we’re looking for other ways to fundraise.”
An ambulance conundrum
Next Turner informed the board that the town’s 2012 ambulance, one of two the town owns, is not working properly and will cost $16,000 to be repaired..
“The turbo has failed, which caused a problem with the exhaust,” he explained.
Because of the high cost, Turner said he’s looking at the option of not repairing the ambulance, and instead has asked Public Safety Director Taylor Yeats to explore options for renting an ambulance.
Board Chair Darren Adams suggested the cost of renting one over time, considering fuel and maintenance along with rental costs, would be the same as simply buying a new one at $240,000. The ambulance is scheduled for replacement in 2021.
The board agreed that not having a reserve ambulance was a problem, and spent a fair amount of time discussing how to solve the problem.
“I guess the bottom line is that we might just have to pay $16,000 to get it fixed,” remarked Morgan.
Finance director Jessica Morris presented the town’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which outlines the capital items the town anticipating replacing or adding in the next several years.
The total budget is $5.5 million, including fire hydrant replacement and new fire equipment, a police cruiser, paramedic equipment and a new dump truck. The CIP also includes the improvements from the recreation master plan and stormwater projects.
Funding will come from the town itself, the tax increment financing district, grants and impact fees.
The board also learned that a branch of financial adviser Edward Jones Investments would set up shop in Milton, good news for a town hoping to attract new business. A representative from the firm greeted the board and shared his enthusiasm for the venture.