Ascutney Fire Station
540 VT-131, Ascutney Vermont
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Commission Members Present: Josh Dauphin
Mark Girard John Berlenbach Katie Cooper
1. Call to Order
Mrs. Bearse called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM.
2. Select Chair
Mrs. Bearse called for nominations for chairperson. Mr. Dauphin nominated Mrs. Esty. Mr. Spaulding seconded the nomination. All were in favor.
3. Select Vice-Chair
Mrs. Esty called for nominations for vice-chair person. As there was no one to fill the position, it was left vacant.
4. Appoint Recording Secretary
Motion: To appoint deForest Bearse as recording secretary.
Made by: Mr. Spaulding Second: Mr. Dauphin
Vote: Unanimous in favor
5. Set meeting times and place
Motion: To set the meeting time and place for the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM at alternating fire stations.
Made by: Mr. Spaulding Second: Mr. Dauphin
Vote: Unanimous in favor
6. Approve minutes from previous meeting – March 1, 2017
Motion: To approve the minutes of March 1st, 2017 with the correction of the name Joseph H (?) to Joseph Renaud.
Made by: Mr. Spaulding Second: Mr. Dauphin
Vote: Unanimous in favor
7. Budget Review
Budgets are 83% of the way through the fiscal year. Of note were:
• AVFD equipment repair line is at 292%. Mr. Spaulding explained that when engine 1 needed repairs in FY16, he was asked to delay the repairs until FY17, as the FY16 repair line was already over budget. The truck was out of service for two months due to the delay.
• Highway Service to AVFD is at 121% (work done to the trucks by the town highway department). Mr. Spaulding said he does not see the slips from the highway department for these services so he cannot explain why it is over budget. It was agreed that a paper trail of Highway Services to each department should be established. Mrs. Esty said she would talk to Mr. Morris, Mr. Butler and Cassie.
• Mr. Spaulding said he was told to get a problem with engine 4 fixed, which he did. He said he then received an email from the town manager saying, 'we're not paying for this; you didn't get approval and we need to sit down and chat before you spend any money.' Mr. Spaulding said he wrote back saying, 'I don't know what you are talking about. I have never spent town money without a prior approval.' He said he sent a letter to Wes; he said Wes said he remembered telling Mr. Spaulding that. Mr. Spaulding told Wes, “Then you need to solve the nasty-gram I got from Ed.” Mr. Spaulding said he told Wes that from now on, he and Wes need to email directly. He said there is now a problem with engine 1 and he and Wes had talked about it and followed it up with an email and “he responded in an email, yes, go ahead and order a part from Dingee.”
• Mrs. Esty asked to be tagged in all email exchanges so she can be aware of these conversations.
• Mr. Girard said he was going to print off the checks they have written to the Town for hazmat because they only show $1338. Mr. Spaulding said there had been a lot more than that. Mr. Girard said one of the checks was $2000.
• Mr. Dauphin said he has a repair chart that shows the truck and what the issues are with the truck. He makes a copy for his folder, gives a copy to highway. He is going to ask for a copy to come back with an initial or signature that the issue has been taken care of. Mr. Spaulding said he would do the same.
• Mr. Girard returned with documentation showing the hazmat checks that had been written. He said the budget sheet is off by about $3175.
• AVFD insurance reimbursement – it currently shows 0%; AVFD hasn't received a bill from the town yet. Mr. Girard said it was paid in March last year; the year before it was paid in February. He wondered if the town is behind this year or if it's VLCT. Mrs. Esty said that Cassie is new and may not be aware it is necessary. Mr. Girard said he had emailed Mr. Butler today – Mr. Butler said he would be getting it out to them in the next couple of days. (This is a bill that the town pays, and the fire departments pay the town back.)
• Some line items are at 100% already because they are items that are paid quarterly or in one lump sum.
• Electric service for the fire hydrant – we have a bill in January that it was $587. Mrs. Esty asked if there was a fire in January. Mr. Dauphin said it was Brenda Lee's house. He said mutual aid hooked up to the hydrant - “we did not flow any water, but they did turn the pump on to get water to be ready. So that was a matter of 20 minutes being on.” He said this is why they don't use it any more. Mr. Dauphin said he brought it up to Ed a little while ago and indicated that there should be some discussion with Green Mountain. The bill would be thousands of dollars if the pump were to be on for several hours. The departments should be able to test it annually without be charged $500.
• Highway service to dry hydrant – budgeted for $400; September was $1111; November was $1303. November was for the dry hydrant at the end of Gulf Road. September was for the dry hydrant at Phelan's on Gulf Road. Mrs. Esty said these were supposed to be grant-funded, so she wasn't sure why these expenses are showing on the budget sheet.
Mr. Spaulding said the town bills for manpower and equipment for the dry hydrants. He said, for 4 days at Cowdry Road, “they used our equipment – not only the trucks, but the portable pumps. For Gulf Road, they used our equipment again. If everyone's billing and getting paid, the fire departments should be sending bills for the use of our portable equipment.” He said there was the time he came from Quechee to unlock the station to get the equipment out for 4 days. Mrs. Esty said he should submit a bill when the town uses their equipment, the same way that they submit a bill when they use their equipment to do things for the departments. Mr. Spaulding said he was working in Cornish when he got a phone call when they were doing the work for the new water line from Ascutney House down Route 12. They called him because the contractor had no place to get water. He said, “We were using our pump, my time, to fill the trucks up. And our electric bill – because it's 3-phase – doubled.” Mrs. Esty repeated that they needed to submit a bill. Mr. Spaulding countered that there are no policy or procedure for doing that. Mr. Girard said they have no set rates to bill the town. He said the fire commission needs to figure out rates to charge the town. Mrs. Esty told him to bring a proposal to the commission. Mr. Spaulding said his time is worth something. He asked, when he is working an hour away, where is the planning. Mrs. Esty asked how much the highway department charges. Mr. Spaulding said he didn't know – he doesn't get to see that. He said planning has to be not at the last minute, not when he is already at work to be called back to the town to do something for the town. He repeated that his time is valuable. He is losing time from work and not getting paid to come down to do the town services.
Mr. Dauphin said that should have been the contractor's responsibility and Mr. Spaulding should not have been called upon to assist. Mrs. Esty advised Mr. Spaulding to submit a proposal for the departments' services for maintenance issues around town and come up with a price per man. She said she would research into how much highway services charge.
Mr. Spaulding said the ladder truck had been used at the school for 4 drill nights because the town/school didn't have a ladder to reach up that high to do up the work that they had to do. Without the ladder truck, the school would have had to hire someone. He said they have mounted antennas on the school at the peak of the roof because the radio guy didn't have a clue how he was going to get up there, so they called the AVFD. They have changed the light bulb on flag pole. The ladder truck assisted the highway department because they couldn't get a chain around a tree so they could pull it down. Mrs. Esty repeated that he should put together a proposal.
Mr. Girard asked if they could do man-hours and equipment (in their proposal). He said they can't charge the mutual aid rate for the ladder truck for going to the school – he said, “that's not right”. (Mrs. Esty quipped, “$800 to change a $20 light bulb.”)
• AVFD is at 97% of budget; WWVFD is at 87% overall. Fire commission is at 95%. There are two months remaining in the fiscal year.
• The $395,000 truck payment has been zeroed out.
• Mr. Dauphin said next month his engine 2 will be going to Dingee for work.
8. Review Town Meeting Discussion
Mrs. Esty said this topic was requested by the Town Manager. He said he wanted to see how people felt the discussion went.
Mr. Spaulding said three people spoke in favor of keeping things as they are.
Mrs. Esty said the way the question was worded was difficult for people to understand. She thought people didn't understand what a fire district meant until the slide presentation was given. The survey results showed nearly equal interest in the fire district and staying the same. Mr. Girard said that 65.4% wanted things to stay the same; 25% wanted a change; undecided was 9%. 44% wanted a single fire department; 40.6% said no; undecided was 15.5%. The two results almost countered one another, but 65% want things to remain the same.
Mr. Girard said current arrangements don't work as there is too much micro-managing amongst the town vs the fire departments. It has caused too many issues everywhere. The fire commission hasn't really accomplished anything. Mr. Spaulding said a perfect example was not fixing the fire truck that was out of service. According to the fire agreement, the chiefs are in charge to make sure the trucks are in “absolute, top-running condition to handle any emergency”. He said Dingee was willing to fix the truck, but hold off billing until the next fiscal year. He said he was told that was “totally illegal; you can't do that”. That would have put the expense in where it is now. He asked, “What happens if it happens again?”
Mr. Girard said he was in total support of the fire district at first, but the more he learned about it, the more concerned he became about “doing it that way”. He mentioned the difficulty of getting people to serve on the prudential committee and the inability of the departments to do what they need to do when they need to do it. He said at present they have to go through their own boards, then to the fire commission, then to the select board, then to the town manager or Wes. It takes months to get anything.
Mr. Spaulding said that about a year ago, AVFD and WWVFD started responding together and training together. He said they are using the same equipment and they are getting quotes – they just bought 48 5-gallon jugs of foam. It was split between the two departments, Springfield, and Claremont. The collaboration resulted in a large cost savings. Gear is the same way. He said no one sees what is going on “behind closed doors”. He said there are going to be people who don't agree with it, but it works.
Mrs. Esty said she would like to see the reports from each department the way they used to be done. She asked for the total number of assists for the ambulance and the total number of fire calls. Mr. Spaulding said his assist to the ambulance is not a motor vehicle accident – that's a fire call. Mrs. Esty said to break it out as assists to Golden Cross, accidents, non-fires and fires. She also asked for reports on training and other activities, including purchases. She said she will read the reports to the select board and on SAPA TV. Mr. Spaulding asked that it not be held against them if they are a day or two late with their reports.
Mr. Spaulding said, “We had a fire call to go to Springfield (?) department; I happened to be on that side of town and they said, 'a pump from each side of town' and then all of a sudden he asked for the ladder so I had called Michael or Josh, they were coming down the interstate. I said I'm not going to grab your truck, I'm going back to grab the ladder. So these guys came and grabbed the engine. Last Friday I was over on the other side of town working, they were over here. We had a car fire on Gird Lot Road. And when these guys tell you their engine 2 is a dog, it's a dog. We were doing 30 miles an hour coming up the hill by Alan Johnson's house. It's gutless. And then these guys beat us there.”
Mr. Spaulding said, “Another thing that people don't know – and I want you to bring this back to the board – they have/we have codes to each other's stations. So we can stop in there any time, they can stop in here.” He asked Mr. Dauphin, “Do you agree this is all working? That's the stuff people don't see.” Mrs. Esty said that these are the things that need to be talked about more. That was the whole point of the fire commission to begin with. It was to foster cooperation between the fire departments and between the select board and the town manager.
The discussion turned to the Fire Commission policies and procedures, the town plan and 5-year plans for the departments.
Mr. Dauphin said the focus of the Commission since the Wood report has been to figure out “what are we doing?” “Are we going to rehash everything (5-year plan) or are we going to look at becoming a fire district? Are we going 100% municipal? Or are we going 100% contract?”
Mrs. Esty said the fire agreement expires June 30th. Mr. Girard said, “We have already been told that wasn't going to be re-signed.”
Mr. Dauphin said, “That's why we're here right now and have been for the last year trying to get the wheels spinning of what's going to change. There are multiple things in the agreement on both sides that are not being fulfilled. We sign it, we don't sign it. What is the purpose?”
Mrs. Esty said, “So I guess where we go from here is, what is your proposal in place of the agreement starting July 1st?'
Mr. Girard said, “Temporary contract.”
Mrs. Esty asked what the contract would say?
Mr. Spaulding said the only thing that has been on the agenda has been the Wood report. “And we've failed on a lot of things.”
Mrs. Esty said, “There has been some discussion on the select board level that, comments that were made by Dan did not reflect how the select board felt. The statement that he made that was in the minutes of a meeting that the fire commission was just going to focus on the John Woods report for a year and forego the normal things – that was something he decided unilaterally and the rest of the select board was not aware of it.”
Mr. Spaulding said. “Let's get back to the basics for awhile.”
Mrs. Esty said, “I think we just need to move forward with what we are charged to do and that is … the fire commission policies and procedures.”
Mr. Girard said he would like to do “more of an exploration in being privately contracted like Golden Cross. We are funded by whatever the contract is negotiated to cover. I think it's the cleanest way to do anything in this town and I think it's the best for the fire departments.” Mr. Spaulding agreed that it would stop the town micromanaging.
Mr. Girard said he is working on a plan that would make the departments self-funding after 7-10 years. There would be no more funding by the town. He has been working on it for a few months.
Mrs. Esty asked Mr. Dauphin where his department sees where it wants to go and if he was in agreement with Ascutney.
Mr. Dauphin said his department has discussed the fire district idea. There was discussion of how the ownership of equipment, being co-mingled, would pan out. Personally, he disagrees with “going back to this”. “We have come to an agreement with the way things are working – they're not. There are liability issues on both sides of the fence that are not being fulfilled. With the fire district – it really doesn't matter to me which way it goes. Personally, I would like to see more oversight of the fire service in the town – oversight by a prudential committee or even be a municipal department. Personally, to me, it doesn't matter as long as there is something better. What we're doing isn't working and hasn't for the last how many years. To say that both departments have gotten along for the last how many years is a true lie. There's definitely been ups and downs, between the chiefs, between personnel, between equipment – just overall, there's definitely been challenges on both sides. So to try to have more of a handle on the overall picture, kind of going back to who's responsible and who's not – to have more clarity on that. Personally I don't know which way is the best, which way would do that the best. At this point we've done the John Wood report. We've had a lot of discussion. We went to town meeting to then kind of put that aside to try to go back to what we have been for since 1990 established. The focus should be on what we are going to do.”
Mrs. Esty said, “We have to go by that document because that was the one that was approved by the town, the voters, and the select board.”
Mr. Dauphin said, “What I am getting at is for the last umpteen years, it hasn't been 100% sufficient on the guidelines.”
Mrs. Esty said she was hearing the chiefs say is that we need to do something different in the future, but it is not exactly clear what that might be. Mr. Dauphin appears to be in favor of a fire district or municipal model; Mr. Spaulding and Mr. Girard favor a privately contracted model. Mr. Dauphin said it didn't matter which way it goes as long as it provides more oversight. Mr. Girard said he doesn't favor municipal, because he feels that taxes would “skyrocket”.
Mr. Girard said, “I have seen how everything else in this town goes...as soon as it's taxpayer's money, they (?) it off. Look at the raises that are dished out every year and the insurance coverages that are going up. My work covers less insurance than it used to, but we're covering more of the highway department's than the town's insurance premiums. So the town's not operating like everybody elses jobs are operating. I see a municipal department costing us more money in the long run than ...”
Mrs. Esty said we needed some clearly defined numbers. Mr. Girard said it's not very clearly defined because what people pay for insurance premiums changes. His employer passes on increased insurance costs to his employees. The town raises taxes to cover insurance increases of its employees.
Mr. Spaulding said there is still the discussion of equipment and station ownership. Mr. Girard said the AVFA has said there is a price tag associated with the municipal model. He said he feels the same way if it goes to the private contract model.
Mr. Girard said in order for the town to go municipal. The two departments have to disappear because the town has no station and no personnel. It is a catch 22. He also said, “I don't believe the town hall has the available hours they say they do to take in all the paperwork and billing and all that stuff. They have always been behind for quite some time now. Look at the books – Colin's behind.” Mr. Spaulding said, “Look at the insurance. They took over our billing and nothing was getting done and we took' Well there's a cost to that. There's a cost to everything, no matter which way we go. It's got to be what's better for the town taxpayers in general, but also what the firefighters are willing to do. Because this town doesn't want a circumstance like Unity – guarantee that. Unity's got no firefighters, well, actually I think they have a chief now.” Mr. Spaulding said, “The chief they hired – he's a member of Claremont Fire Department, he's a member of Windsor Fire Department and works for Golden Cross....He said they just appointed me, but I'm never home.” Mrs. Esty said that wasn't what the select board wants and that's not what the town wants. She said she was becoming less in favor of the fire district model.
Mr. Girard said it was this way before the March meeting, but it was their understanding that it was just a presentation to give them ideas as to what we were looking into. Mr. Spaulding said that in January it wasn't going to be presented. They were going to give it another year and then all of a sudden in February he said we were doing it. Mr. Girard said they were obligated by the John Woods report to do that.
Mr. Dauphin said, “It's talked about that we can't fill this board. The issue with this board is that … it definitely has its ups and downs … but then, there's really no authority for this board because it all goes back to the select board...there's multiple channels that the process takes. To me, if you have a fire district, that is your fire commission, your select board, your final say. It's not going to three different people to try to get answers... It depends on how it's all written. But that alone.... all fire department issues go to one board and that's where it's dealt with.”
Mrs. Esty said it would have its own budget to be voted on by the voters – separate from the town budget – its own separate floor vote, like the fire district in Ascutney.
Mr. Dauphin felt the prudential committee might be easier to fill if the participants felt it was really worth their time.
Mr. Spaulding said it was “mind-bogglingly” painful to ask the select board for the funds to buy fire equipment with money that was already there for that purpose.
Mr. Girard said he had thought about a hybrid fire district model where the two departments stay completely separate with the prudential committee doing the contracts. Mrs. Esty suggested he write that up as a proposal.
Mrs. Esty said this has been talked about intensely for a year following the John Woods report. She said she is hoping that now they will start putting things down on paper and have actual ideas to present to the memberships. She complimented the chiefs on their thought process and coming up with ways for things to work rather than debating how things can't work. Mr. Dauphin said he was going to have a problem with finding time to start writing up proposals. He said he doesn't have time to take on this role. He said he does a lot and it is because no one else in his department wants to. Mr. Spaulding said time constraints were similar in his department as well. Mr. Girard said there's no money in the fire commission's budget to write things up either. Mrs. Esty suggested that they email her and she will compile the ideas and she'll bring it to the next meeting to discuss.
Ms. Cooper suggested clarifying items like:
• Who will answer to whom? Eliminate some of the cooks out of the kitchen because we don't need so many.
• The two departments want to directly report to the fire commission/prudential committee. There is no select board, there is no anybody else outside.
• The way calls are toned out. If it is a medical lift assist, obviously you probably won't tone both departments out. But if it's a fire or an accident on the interstate, then both departments are getting toned out together.
She said the discussion can grow from there.
Mrs. Esty said she would look for clarity on having SOGs or SOPs the same. She said that the both departments are using each others equipment and stations is a positive that is already happening. Another positive is that they are making joint purchases to get better prices. Mr. Dauphin said, “So long as someone doesn't say, 'well why don't you go with this bunker gear because it's $500 cheaper'... that's where the micromanagement comes in.” Mr. Girard said each department has its own preferences in gear. But they are the same (?)”
DeForest asked if the departments could clarify their role in the town – do they want to divide the town in half with each half “belonging” to a department? Or do they want to become a team and provide fire services to the town jointly? Does the town need two separate non-profit organizations to provide fire services? Mr. Spaulding said, “To provide the best fire services to the whole town.” So Ascutney's role is provide services for the whole town? Mr. Spaulding said, “What you're missing is that when there's a medical call on the east side of town. Just Ascutney gets toned by dispatch. Dispatch makes that choice based on the agreement of what our coverage area is, because that agreement classifies where we cover. The “turf is assigned”, “Not picked by us”(Mr. Spaulding) Mrs. Esty said there is a line – Mill Pond, 131, Weathersfield Center Road. That's the line. Mr. Spaulding said it was Graveline Road, not Mill Pond. This line is drawn for medical calls. Mr. Girard said it was for everything. Mr. Spaulding said, “It's for everything, but right now, the way the town's working – if there's a chimney fire or structure fire or car accident - it's auto-aid for anything except a medical call. Hartford, Hanover, Lebanon and Norwich – they are doing the same thing that Josh and I are. They get a report of a structure fire – Hartford's out on Quechee at something – auto-aid report a structure fire, Lebanon/Hanover is going to beat Hartford to a lot of their calls and vice versa. So you're a taxpayer. Are you going to be mad because Lebanon or Hanover came to your chimney fire that got into the partition – no! Because there's a fire truck there. And that's the way it is. There's only one town right now that's not doing it – that's Claremont. They had a structure fire yesterday. They don't do auto-aid until its … something.”
So there is an outside entity that is very much involved in making decisions about who goes where when trucks are already busy or if a fire is too big to handle alone. Mr. Dauphin said, “For our town, we – as both departments – have set the standard of how it's supposed to happen in Weathersfield. The standard has been that there is a dividing line – that each department covered everything besides a structure fire. So car accidents, medical calls, CO alarms, chimney fires, we only responded. We were primarily responsible. If there is a structure fire, then everybody goes. But we have, prior to when, 9 months ago when we started doing the dual calls... up until a year ago, we had, as both departments had a list of what dispatch is supposed to tone out and when they're supposed to tone out.”
Mr. Spaulding said, “You're not going to have the same fire truck at your house as Lynn's going to have – you're going to have all the Weathersfield trucks there, but you're going to have Claremont and Windsor and Lynn's going to get Springfield, Chester, etc.” Each department chief has to figure out who to call for mutual aid. Mr. Girard said it is actually pre-determined. It is considered zones. The north end of town is a zone, the Bow is a zone and so on. Dispatch has 5 or 6 different zones and pre-made cards. There is “run card” for each zone. The zones and run cards are different for each of the two departments. The cards also depend on what the incident is – for example a structure fire is different than a tractor trailer on the interstate or if the school is on fire and so on. Mr. Spaulding described how active 911 has further simplified the calling out of departments.
Mrs. Esty said we need to look at a map of Weathersfield – she asked the chiefs if they want to continue with the divided town or did they want their coverage to be collectively together? Mr. Spaulding said that was what they are doing now, except for “meds”. She asked if they want their own territories?
Mr. Dauphin said, “The thing with that is that we have a big town. We have members throughout the whole town. The majority of the members that are on each department are on the sides of town that they live in. So if we have a car accident on 106 in Reading – if you do a - dual tone is what we do – no, we don't need 5 trucks from 2 stations coming from 20 minutes away if we have the manpower over on our side of town to handle the call. So it's got to be written where an officer is making that decision ...”
Mr. Girard said, “We go by the philosophy that it is easier to turn someone around than it is to come in after the fact.” Mr. Spaulding said the ISO ratings when it's a 3-mile you get a $10 discount based on the location of the fire departments.
Mr. Dauphin said, “So for ambulance calls, for 95% of the ambulance calls, you can handle between with 2-4 people. It doesn't make sense to tone out Ascutney to come 15 minutes.”
Mrs. Esty said this is micromanaging and wasn't what she was talking about. Should there be a dividing line or not?
Mr. Girard said there should be a dividing line for medical calls and for command structure so that if Josh is up on a call on that side of town, that someone's not trying to override his command that we're needed there.
Is that the starting point? That we agree that because of the size of the community, having two departments – one on each side – is a good thing for the community? All agreed. It is the town's best interest. It saves on response time and so on. It is in the town's best interest to maintain 2 fire stations. Let's not go to the 2 independent fire departments yet. Just the two stations. There is a difference between two stations and two departments. Mr. Girard said there still needs to be a dividing line for each station. All agreed.
Are there two fire stations and two 501(C)(3)'s or two fire stations and one fire department? Since there are two long-established, deeply invested, deeply committed non-profit organizations, can we assume that this is a good model to maintain? Is Mr. Dauphin's desire to have oversight because of two private non-profits trying to provide joint services? Or are you able to operate as two private non-profits working as a team on your own? Mr. Dauphin said he wants oversight of both departments because the last 50 years – both departments have not been able to work 100% together. What did he want this oversight to do? What role does it play? Mr. Dauphin said, “Someone that is able to hold a responsibility and say yes or no on all matters regarding the fire departments.” Wouldn't that be an outside entity telling your department how to do what you already know how to do?
Mr. Girard said he thought Mr. Dauphin is looking more for a mediator when there's issues. He said, “When me and Josh talked on the phone, it was, you know, there's nothing saying that in 3 months there's not something that there's a big argument over them getting their new truck and someone in our department is jealous and causing a big rift. There's nothing saying that something like that can't happen.” Mrs. Esty said, “Then that's the chief's/president's position to address.” Mr. Girard said, “Depending on how far it goes. If it gets to a point that it's interfering with calls, it becomes a public safety issue. Say we get a new truck on the ballot and it gets voted down. Just like theirs did the first time around. Say Josh got all pissed off and (?) it's our fault and the two departments stop working together. I think he wants a mediator so that stuff can't happen. So if there's an issue between the departments, there's someone to go back to, enforcing rules, enforcing regulations, but not stepping on your toes to the point where telling you what you can or can't send somewhere.”
Mrs. Esty said she wants to rewrite the policies and procedures for the fire commission. She felt this was the first step. It has rules and guidelines, but it doesn't have any teeth to it.
Mr. Dauphin said, “The end result, from this point forward, it doesn't matter if I'm chief or whoever the heck is chief of either department, that it's going down the tunnel where everything is ok and everything works together 100% and then someone is overseeing and making sure that that is happening and that it doesn't split apart where it has been in the past. How to get to there ...”
The issue is that the Town has two strong-willed, independent organizations that sometimes clash. Mr. Dauphin said there would certainly be personnel conflicts within a municipal department, but there is one person that has the authority to address them with finality. A prudential committee could serve that role over the two departments. Both departments would have to agree that whatever the prudential committee decided is what you are going to follow. Do we need a board overseeing or just a person? Ms. Cooper said, “Too many cooks in the kitchen, you end up with a disaster. If the two departments maintain their own entity and both reported directly to the town manager like a chief would the mayor of the town for a municipal department, you alleviate the fire commission, you alleviate the select board – it's the two of you...” Mrs. Esty said that wouldn't work because the Town Manager answers to the select board.
To summarize these are the main points of contention:
• Personality conflicts: The chiefs need to handle issues within their own departments. Perhaps leadership training could be helpful. The chiefs need an independent third party of their choice to handle issues between each other, someone that they each trust that may have nothing to do with running the town, because it really has nothing to do with running the town.
• Micromanaging – it's ineffective, it's aggravating, it's inappropriate and it needs to stop.
It was agreed to stop the discussion here due to the lateness of the hour.
Motion: To adjourn the meeting
Made by: Mr. Dauphin Second: Mr. Spaulding
Vote: Unanimous in favor
The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.