Board making plans for harvests

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FARMINGTON – Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire Pete Tracy as the town’s forestry consultant and to authorize Tracy and Town Manager Richard Davis to put forest management plans for some town lots out to bid.

The lots in question are virtually unusable for anything but recreation and timber harvesting, Tracy said. They include the landfill, the old snow dump and the old dump. Tracy suggested selectmen hire an insured certified logging professional, who would start harvesting trees on the three lots next winter.

“Maybe we could trade (the timber) for fuel oil,” joked Selectman Dennis Pike.

Selectmen Tuesday also voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing during the next meeting on a proposal by fire Chief Terry Bell to purchase an $812,500 combination pumper/ladder truck. The move and subsequent trade-in of the town’s ladder truck would leave the department with three trucks instead of four, which will probably be less expensive to maintain in the long run, Bell said.

He said he hopes the town will vote to make the purchase this year because new emissions standards will soon raise the price of fire engine motors by $20,000.

Farmington has $215,672 in the Fire Department Reserve Account, Davis said. The trade-in allowance for the ladder truck will be about $100,000, so the town will need to borrow nearly $500,000 to pay for the truck.

Davis said he thinks the approach the town has taken in saving for new equipment in recent years was not rational.

“The reserve has always been an easy place to raid when we needed to make budget cuts, which is every year. This has forced us to increase the reserve account (appropriations) dramatically in years when equipment purchases are necessary.”

It would be smarter, in the future, to save slowly and steadily for big purchases, Davis said.

Selectmen also voted Tuesday night to appropriate $6,000 from the Public Works Reserve Account to build a 50-by-30-foot barn to store department vehicles and other equipment.

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