ASHAWAY — Voters approved the 2019-20 Ashaway Fire District budget and a resolution allocating another $50,000 to the Ashaway Ambulance Association at the annual meeting Thursday. Twenty-eight taxpayers attended the meeting, which took place at the fire station and lasted about half an hour.
The new $620,100 spending plan is level funded from the previous year, and the tax rate will go down by $0.02, from a rate of $1.46 per $1,000 of property value to $1.44. The decrease was attributed to an increase of close to $4 million in Hopkinton’s grand list.
Tax Collector George Mayhew announced that he had collected $645,000 in taxes, which includes back taxes owed to the district. The additional tax revenue will be allocated to the district’s capital improvement account.
“We only needed $620,000 to make budget, so he’s doing a good job collecting and collecting back taxes,” Fire Commissioner Mike Williams said.
As they did in the previous budget, voters passed a resolution allocating $50,000 to the Ashaway Ambulance Association. Last year, the motion to fund the ambulance corps was defeated at the annual meeting in July. However residents requested a special meeting, which took place on Aug. 20, during which the funding measure passed by a margin of eight votes.
Williams said the money had been well spent, allowing the ambulance corps to hire more personnel and as a result, respond to more calls.
“It allowed them to hire the weekend people,” he said, also noting that ambulance corps President Jodi Perrin had reported that the corps was now sending more crews for mutual aid than it was receiving.
The funds also made it possible for the corps to replace its oldest ambulance with a 2011 model.
“It allowed us to have the capital in the bank to borrow money to buy a newer vehicle,” Williams said. “We’re doing some work on the station over there to upgrade it, do some repairs, things like that.”
The ambulance corps has had financial and operating difficulties in the past that jeopardized the additional $50,000 grant it receives from the town of Hopkinton. Williams said he felt that the corps had turned the corner, and he was hoping that the fire district would not have to fund it again next year.
“They’re at the top of the hill now,” he said. “Hopefully, this gets them over it, and we don’t have to keep doing this. That would be the ultimate goal, to let them become self sufficient again, but, by the same token, I think as a taxpayer, it’s a pretty decent investment in ensuring that an ambulance gets to you when they need to.”
Ashaway ambulance Treasurer Eric Perrin said he was confident that the corps would continue to make progress.
“I think that we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “It’s being able to put some more crews on, which is what everybody wanted. The only way to do that is to have the money to work with."
The corps has extended its hours from Monday to Friday, and has an EMT on weekends during the day. “We supplement that with volunteers,” Perrin said.
Voters also elected several officers for the new year. Mayhew and Fire Commissioner Robert Greene were reelected. Christopher Williams was elected clerk and Jamie Conroy was elected treasurer. Moderator Med Page has moved to another town and therefore cannot continue in his position so voters were also asked to choose a new moderator.
Ashaway resident Barbara Capalbo, who serves on the Town Council, nominated Brenda Williams, wife of Fire Commissioner Mike Williams. With no one else seeking the position, Brenda Williams was elected.