By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
NAHANT — Among decisions to be made at the April 29 Town Meeting is whether to support Fire Chief Michael Feinberg’s request to adopt an Enterprise Fund to defray the cost of operating an ambulance service.
Passing the article would allow the town to institute an ambulance fee to fund ambulance service in the future, according to a report by the Finance Committee. The panel is not recommending Town Meeting support the article, stating “revenues aside, the benefit to residents of an Ambulance Enterprise Fund is questionable, and there is no urgency to doing it now.”
The document also noted that in 2016, the Fire Department responded to only 18 fires, 360 ambulance runs, and 62 assists to invalids, a pattern that has been consistent for years.
“Last year the town voted to lease an ambulance, which arrived at the end of 2016,” the report states. “Despite that vote, the ambulance was actually purchased via short-term debt at 6 percent interest. In addition, the department’s acquisition of unplanned and unbudgeted assets (i.e. a drone), raises concerns about making additional funding available outside Proposition 2½ protections.”
Richard Lombard, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he is opposed to the article because he fears people will worry about whether they can afford ambulance services and might not call 911 when they need help.
At a meeting last month, Selectman Enzo Barile said fees can be waived for residents with a financial hardship. Barile and Selectman Chesley Taylor Jr. supported the article.
Town Meeting will also discuss the fate of the Coast Guard Housing. First, they will be presented with a vote to rescind a 2008 Town Meeting decision to sell the land for the construction of condominiums. Then they’ll vote to authorize the selectmen to handle selling the four-acre parcel of land and 12 single-family homes.
But the Finance Committee is recommending a vote to indefinitely postpone the article, stating in the report that the town “should not act in haste.”
“The article as written specifies nothing, and it is fiscally irresponsible to approve it as such.”
The Finance Committee also recommended $175,000 be allocated to make improvements and repairs to the drainage systems at Bear Pond and Ward Road; $106,000 to purchase two new pickup trucks for the Department of Public Works; and $280,000 to maintain, repair, and improve the town’s 11 pumping stations.
Town Meeting members will vote on a total of 41 articles. The meeting begins at 12:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte