Thursday, August 18, 2016

Small Town Democracy at work

It all started with metal roofs and solar collectors.  They have been getting more and more popular up here in Franconia.  The fire department calls them dangerous.  Both are so slippery, especially when wet, that firemen cannot walk on them with out slipping and falling to the ground.  So the fire department has wanted to buy a ladder truck to furnish a solid footing when firemen need to go up on slippery roofs to fight the fire.
   And so, a deal turned up.  A nice big used ladder truck, in good shape, even painted yellow, Franconia's departmental color, for only $70K.  New ones go for ten times that.  The fire department wants to buy it.
   Buying takes money.  Franconia has some trust funds, in which the town salts money away over the years to replace various pieces of equipment, police cars, firetrucks and the like when they finally wear out.  We have  fund to buy a tanker truck for the fire department with $140K in it and a newly established fund to buy a ladder truck with only $37K in it.   The fire department wanted to take some money out of the tanker truck fund to buy this marvelous ladder truck.  Their thinking was a fire truck is a fire truck and it's OK to spend fire truck money on fire trucks.  I tend to agree, but that's not the way it works.
   We summoned a special town meeting for August to vote on the matter.  It was a lovely evening, warm and clear of sky.  Turnout was light, maybe 60 people out of a town with 900 registered voters.  All the old Franconia people turned up. All the fire department turned up.  Everybody knew everybody.  Lots of questions were asked, most of them about process and procedure, rather than do we really need another  fire truck.  And a vote was taken, written ballots just to be sure, and the ladder truck buy passed 43 to 14.  And a good time way had by all. 

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