BURRILLVILLE – The annual meeting of the Nasonville Fire District this week was a bit quieter than gatherings in the small village have been over the past year.
And ultimately, voters thanked members of the governing commission for bringing an end to litigation that has plagued the district since paid staff was eliminated last year.
Voters approved a settlement with the IAFF Union that will resolve all outstanding grievances over the move, including complaints pending in Superior Court and charges of unfair labor practices.
The deal includes $150,000 in payouts for two firefighters injured in the line of duty. That’s s total of $200,000 less than an agreement rejected by voters in January.
And as part of the settlement agreement, the union has agreed to officially dissolve.
“There would be no more union here,” explained Attorney Timothy Cavazza, who worked to negotiate the deal. “We heard what the taxpayers had said. There seemed to be a big objection to that component of it.”
“This is, from my perspective as the attorney for the district, a good deal for the district,” said Cavazza. “It’s much simpler than last time.”
Cavazza noted that the district will continue to pay for all medical expenses arising out of the firefighter’s injury – as dictated by state law – but that the expense is covered by insurance up to $100,000.
“Chances are very slim that either would exceed the $100,000,” the attorney said.
Town Council President John Pacheco, who lives in the district, asked what would happen to the expense in the future when the “Nasonville Fire District” is completely dissolved, a decision passed by voters in March.
Cavazza answered that the liability would become part of any potential merger. He noted that the move to dissolve will still require state approval.
This week, voters approved a district budget that includes $168,892 to be paid to the neighboring district of Oakland Mapleville for continued fire and EMS coverage for those living in the village. Paid staff will not return the fire station, and Fire Commission Chairman Gerry Lapierre said that at this point, volunteers are being directed to Oakland Mapleville.
“We’’ll continue maintaining the station and the apparatus that we still have,” said Lapierre. “We seem to get great service.”
The unanimous votes bring an end to a year of uncertainty for Nasonville taxpayers. After voters terminated paid staff last September, the commission also let go of former Nasonville Chief Joe Bourquin two months into to his two year contract. One week later, their entire 27-member volunteer staff resigned.
Oakland Mapleville Fire District Chief Joseph Bertholic was recently appointed the interim chief in Nasonville, and has been keeping up and monitoring equipment in the largely vacant Victory Highway headquarters.
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, voters agreed to pay Bertholic $20,000 annually for the service, up $10,000 from the suggested figure.
The district is expected to collect $402,247 in income, including $369,047 in taxes. The rate will be set at the fire commission’s next meeting.
Bertholic noted that the average response time for emergency calls from Nasonville has been 7 minutes and 52 seconds.
“We’re going to continue to sell off equipment that is not needed,” said Bertholic adding that it saves the district money every time another fire service uses one of their trucks.
Taxpayers, he noted, will pay a, “minimal expense to continue to maintain the equipment as we go, and it’s going to help the district in the long run.”
Resident Stephen Foy told the commission that he’s happy with the deal.
“I just want to congratulate the board and their legal counsel,” Foy said. “You did good. Thank you.”