PARIS — Residents recently received flyers in the mail criticizing Board of Selectmen Chairman Scott Buffington and Budget Committee Chairman Rick Little for their roles in cutting the Fire Department budget.

The flyer says it was sent by the Friends of Paris Firefighters and gives the fire station’s address of 137 Western Ave.

It reads, in part, “BURNED Select Board Chairman Scott Buffington has ambushed residents with a plan to dismantle the Fire Department. No debate. No public comment. No clue.”

The two officials and Budget Committee member Richard Merz have been embroiled in a controversy over voters in June cutting the Fire Department budget with the intention of doing away with part-time firefighters and reinstating an all-volunteer force. At that meeting, Little made the motion, Buffington seconded it and voters approved it.

Buffington estimated he received 30 phone calls, plus a dozen or so emails about the flyers.

Little said he received phone calls, which he said were surprisingly in support of him. Both men say the statements in the flyer are untrue.

“I don’t take the cowardly approach of publicly shaming somebody,” Buffington said. “There was debate; there (were) public comments. … The townspeople voted after a very healthy debate to reduce funding to the Fire Department by $145,000.”

“It upset a lot more people than me,” Little said. “If they’re going to put something out, it would be nice to put the truth out.”

Lorne Smith, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 340, said the Teamsters helped pay for the flyers.

“The Friends of Paris Firefighters are obviously the people who are behind the flyer,” Smith said. “The people who wanted to put out the flyer are terrified of these guys,” he said, referring to Buffington and Little.

Buffington responded, “This is outside money that is trying to coerce and divide us and dictate how we spend our tax dollars.”

He said the flyer’s statement that the volunteer department will create longer response times isn’t necessarily true, nor is the statement that property taxes will not go down.

“A budget is ultimately a reflection of your tax bill,” he said, so as long as a property valuation or other factors have not increased, there should be a decrease in taxes.

Buffington took issue with the statement that home insurance rates could rise since the town’s strong ISO rating is a 4 and was established several years ago when it was still a volunteer department.

“It is just another misconception they used to scare people with inaccurate information,” he said. “I am sorry Lorne (Smith) doesn’t like the outcome of that (town meeting). He is not a resident of Paris; he does not have a say in how we spend our tax dollars.

“How is that not bad-faith negotiating?” Buffington asked about sending out the flyer. “You are distributing lies to the community you claim to help.”

Flyers mailed to Paris residents by the Friends of Paris Firefighters are critical of Board of Selectmen Chairman Scott Buffington and Budget Committee Chairman Rick Little and their roles in advocating cutting the Fire Department budget.

The back of a flyer, copies of which were sent to Paris residents by the Friends of Paris Firefighters, advocates support for firefighters. 

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