SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Firefighters and paramedics in South Hadley could be out of a job come July 1. It comes down to dollars and cents and many taxpayers in the district are looking for more clarification.
District One in South Hadley held it’s annual meeting last week and taxpayers voted not to fund the salaries of more than 40 firefighters and paramedics. That means if no action is taken as of July 1st, there will be no staff to respond to medical or fire emergencies. A District One resident who attended the meeting said taxpayers didn’t feel comfortable passing the $2.7 million personal services article.
“Well the concerns were that there wasn’t enough information on the article about the salaries and how they were going to spend the money. there was not break down of how that money was being spent,” said Mitchell Malinowski, a South Hadley resident.
The proposed fire district’s budget is $5.2 million, more than three percent over the current year.
“There’s been several reasons why the budget has increased over the years, a lot of it has to do with call volume,” said South Hadley Fire Captain Jason Houle.
Captain Houle states the district has responded to about 3000 calls for service last year and is on track to surpass that this year.
“This repeal of our budget, just our salaries alone, seems like a slap in the face of everything we do,” said Martin Beila, a South Hadley paramedic.
Town Administrator Lisa Wong says safety is the primary concern is the safety of residents, “Our hope is that there are multiple avenue to resolve this. If they can get the funding to continue the services or worst case scenario any discontinuation of services as of July 1, we’re starting to plan right now on what needs to happen after that.”
The Prudential Committee will be meeting Friday at 5 p.m. to discuss scheduling meeting to revisit funding these salaries again.