Mexico residents listen to a discussion Tuesday evening on a request to take another $100,000 from surplus to replace equipment damaged when the Fire Station was flooded in December 2023. The request was rejected, 42-16, apparently because it’s not yet known what it will cost to move the Main Street station in the next few years. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — Residents voted 42-16 on Tuesday not to take another $100,000 from surplus to replace firefighting gear damaged when the Fire Station flooded in December 2023, apparently until they know what it will cost to move the station in the next few years.

On Jan. 11, residents voted 32-8 to approve up to $100,000 from surplus to fix storm damage at the Main Street station. It was part of $300,000 approved that evening to also pay for vehicles for the fire and highway departments.

Fire Chief Mat Theriault recently requested another $100,000 from surplus to continue repairs.

“I think this ought to be voted down until we get these financials straightened out and know what it’s going to cost to move the Town Office, the Fire Department and the library up to Meroby (elementary school),” former Selectman Reggie Arsenault said at Tuesday’s special town meeting at the Town Office.

The school will become town property when Mountain Valley Community School opens. The school is planned for the site of Mountain Valley Middle School at 58 Highland Terrace and Meroby at 21 Cross St.

“When you’re talking about a few hundred thousand dollars to retrofit that building for a fire department and bays and sleeping quarters, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands dollars,” Arsenault said. “This isn’t going to be no cheap venture. At a certain time, we’ve got to decide whether to invest anymore or wait a couple years. And I think we ought to wait.”


Mexico Fire Department Lt. Jamee Theriault said the department does a lot of fundraising. Much of the previous $100,000 paid to replace furniture, appliances, a bed and eradicating mold at the station. Firefighters used their own money for some of the purchases, she said.

“Probably about 80% of it is going with us to the new station,” Theriault said.

Chief Theriault said he was hoping not to take from the fire reserve account because they have fire apparatus — one 22 years old and one 19 years old — and one of them needs to be replaced soon.

On Facebook, he said they also have 15 portable air packs that are out of date but still legal for service and “we can no longer get parts to repair them.” Total replacement cost for the air packs and bottles is about $148,500, he said.

“Saving money in the reserve account would allow us to replace air packs when they can no longer maintain in-service use, saving tax dollars,” he said.

Firefighter Jack Gaudet, the town emergency management director, said he continues to file applications for grants. He has had successes, but many are very competitive, he said.

During their regular meeting, the Select Board approved a request by Pastor Joe Clark of Praise Assembly of God Church in Rumford for a toll road on Main Street on June 8. He said proceeds will go toward a youth group trip to Washington, D.C. After viewing the special town meeting, he said the church will donate half the proceeds to the Mexico Firemen’s Relief Association.

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