MEXICO — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Tuesday evening to approach the Planning Board about amending the town’s referendum town meeting ordinance to split the Public Safety budget into separate Police and Fire Department budgets.

The issue was brought up after fire Chief Gary Wentzell said that some of the people in his department “wanted to see what we have to do to have the Fire Department budget by itself for the upcoming year.

“We’ve asked about it before, and all of us seem to think it’d be in our best interest to do it that way,” Wentzell said.

The Fire Department budget is currently enveloped, along with the Police Department budget, in a single category labeled “Public Safety.”

Town Manager John Madigan said that it could be accomplished through “an amendment to the referendum town meeting ordinance.

“That spells out the categories that people vote on,” Madigan said. “After you amend it, you would put it before the voters.”

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Wentzell added that some of the things that are lumped into the Public Safety budget, such as fire hydrant costs and street lights, are things that “we have no control over,” and wanted to see it separated from the actual budget.

Chairman Richie Philbrick said that it “wouldn’t hurt” to separate the two department budgets “because taxpayers will be able to see what each department is doing with their budget.”

Selectman Albert Aniel agreed, pointing out that “some of these county costs that we’re obligated to pay, such as Med-Care and solid waste, don’t appear on the budget for people to approve.”

“Maybe we should have a section on the ballot that says ‘county obligations,’” Aniel suggested.

Philbrick asked if they could have something ready for voters by the Nov. 4 vote.

“There’s not enough time to get it done,” Selectman Reggie Arsenault said. “It’s too close to when people start filling out absentee ballots.”

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Wentzell said that if the departments wanted to separate their budgets by the next budget cycle, they’d have to amend the ordinance and put it before voters “before our budget process begins.

“Otherwise, the change wouldn’t go into effect until the 2015-16 fiscal year,” Wentzell said.

Philbrick said that he would “rather have a special town meeting and get this figured out sooner rather than later.”

In other business, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to approve a $29,750 bid for winter sand to R.A. Tibbets.

Tibbets’ bid was $350 lower than the next-highest bidder.

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