BERLIN – Town leaders approved a fiscal year 2020 contract with the Berlin Fire Company last week.
The council voted 3-1 last week, with Councilman Dean Burrell absent and Councilman Thom Gulyas opposed, to approve the contract with the fire company. The approval came after several meetings between town leaders and Berlin Fire Company officials.
“I think the discussions have been very fruitful and I think it shows that we’re continuing to make recognizable progress in understanding each other’s needs,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “Compared to a couple years ago it’s very reassuring. It doesn’t mean we don’t still have issues to discuss but I think we have a relationship we can build on for a long, long time.”
According to Town Administrator Laura Allen, the contract is not significantly different than last year’s contract. It does, however, adjust the payment schedule so the town provides the fire company with funding on a different timeline than it did last year.
“The payments are now front loaded into the fiscal year,” Allen said.
She said the funding the town would provide through the contract was the same amount that had been approved in the town’s budget, which is 10% less than the company received last year. The fiscal year 2020 budget lists $544,500 as the fire and EMS operating allocation.
When asked why he voted against the contract, Gulyas said he didn’t feel the fire company had provided all the financial information the town had asked for. He said that if the fire company expected to receive more than half a million dollars in funding from the town it should submit all information the town requested. He said he supported the efforts of the town’s emergency responders but wanted to ensure the town’s money was spent responsibly.
“It’s not my money,” he said. “It’s the taxpayers’ money.”