BETHEL – Selectmen Monday set the dates for two public hearings to give residents a chance to voice their opinions on amendments to town ordinances and spending issues.

The first hearing was set for 7 p.m. May 19 as part of the selectmen’s regular meeting. It will concern proposed amendments to town ordinances that Town Manager Scott Cole said are mostly language changes, but under state law hearings must be held before people vote in June.

The second hearing is set for 7 p.m. May 29 when people will be given the opportunity to ask questions and express their views on three referendum questions.

The first question deals with appropriating up to $1,300,000 to design, build and equip a fire station to replace the existing facility. Voters will be asked to authorize the treasurer and chairman of the Board of Selectmen to issue general obligation securities for up to $1,300,000.

The second question deals with appropriating up to $150,000 to design, build and equip an ambulance station to improve existing facilities. Again, they are asked to authorize the treasurer and board chairman to issue general obligation securities not to exceed $150,000.

Both the selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend passage.

The third question asks if voters are willing to authorize selectmen to enter an agreement with Oxford County and the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services to the town. It also asks voters if they are willing to raise and appropriate a sum of $283,574 to fund the agreement and any other police service during the period July 1 through June 30, 2004.

Again, both selectmen and the Budget Committee are recommending a yes vote, however, the vote to recommend passage was not unanimous. Selectmen voted 3-2 to recommend passage while the vote from the Budget Committee was 6-5 in favor with one abstention.

It was also pointed out that if voters replace Bethel’s local Police Department with deputies from the county, the town will still have law enforcement coverage 24 hours per day 7 days a week.

The referendum question will be included as part of the municipal elections on Tuesday, June 10.

The selectmen also approved a request submitted by the Fire Department asking to change from having a department chief and two assistant chiefs to having only one assistant. The change was requested as there is currently one assistant’s position unfilled and the time is right to make the requested change.

Approval was given by unanimous vote.

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