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Firefighter hiring plan survives funding fight at Goffsown deliberative session

GOFFSTOWN — An attempt to remove funding from a warrant article to hire eight new firefighters and EMTs/paramedics failed at Tuesday night’s deliberative session.

The petition warrant article calls for raising $338,973 to cover the salary and benefits for the positions to provide 24/7 coverage for six months. After that, the cost would be included in the general operating budget.

The warrant article was submitted by resident Charles Tentas, who said having full-time fire and EMT coverage is necessary for a community the size of Goffstown.

“I believe this is the right thing to do,” he said. “... We need to have these men and women on site and ready to roll in those vehicle and take care of people.”

Currently, full-time firefighters and EMTs/paramedics work during the day. Part-timers work from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Fire Chief Richard O’Brien said that a similar warrant article was proposed about 12 years ago calling for the hiring of 18 firefighters. He said that warrant article failed and there hasn’t been any increase in department staffing — despite increased demand.

“Since then, our call volume has increased by 25 percent,” O’Brien said, adding that the town’s population has increased as well.

The petition warrant article mirrors one that O’Brien had initially presented, but withdrew during the budget process.

Tuesday night, some who spoke said they were against the warrant article because it didn’t adequately show the costs for the additional staff in the future.

Resident Peter Grigorakakis said he wasn’t necessarily in favor of the warrant article, but also wasn’t in support of the proposed amendment to remove the funding.

He said he has faith in voters.

“If they really value this expenditure, then they will vote yes,” he said. “If they don’t, they will vote no ... I need to trust that the taxpayers and the voters will make that choice on their own.”

The other warrant articles include:

• The proposed operating budget of $21.59 million. The default budget would be $21.54 million.

• Two collective-bargaining agreements with the police department’s patrolmen, dispatchers and clerks.

• Raising $20,000 for both the Goffstown Main Street Program and Crispin’s House Coalition for Youth.

The full text of all proposed warrant articles can be found on the town’s website.

Voting will take place on March 13 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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The Bedford Bulletin
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