Somerset (MA) has Funding Plan for New Fire Apparatus

When the fire department orders a new pumper truck after July 1 and receives delivery about 10 months later, officials expect a new funding stream to pay for it.

Town meeting voters two weeks ago approved the lease/purchase of a $450,000 front-line pumper truck to replace the 2003 lead truck. That truck will become the town’s second pumper, with the 1995 truck becoming a spare, officials said.

Voters also authorized the Board of Selectmen to seek state legislation to set up a new Fire Department Emergency Services Revolving Account.

That account also needs a special state act to increase the amount that the town can annually put into it, which is tied to the tax levy.

Currently, state law allows annual proceeds into such an account to be 1 percent of the tax levy. At $38 million for Somerset, it could fund up to $38,000 a year, Selectmen Chairman Scott Lebeau and Fire Chief Scott Jepson said.

The legislation state Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, filed on Tuesday, June 2, would increase the annual level to 5 percent. That converts to about a $150,000 maximum per year on a $38 million levy.

The home rule petition has been forwarded to the House Rules Committee, Haddad said.

In fiscal 2014, the department collected $1,075,377.

Those fees paid for salaries of 10 firefighter/paramedics on the 28-person department, along with about $135,000 in overtime, $59,000 for EMT stipends, $163,333 for eligible equipment and supplies and a small amount of other personnel expenses, according to Jepson’s written account.

That balance last year in the enterprise fund of $182,766 could not be retained, and each year it goes back into the municipal general fund, Jepson and Lebeau said.

If or when the home-rule legislation Haddad filed passes — which officials said is customary — the new revolving account and limits will be set to replace the old ALS structure.

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