SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Controversy in South Hadley after a small group of taxpayers voted to reject funding salaries for personnel at Fire District Number One.
Last week, South Hadley Fire District One held its annual meeting, giving taxpayers a chance to vote on a series of articles related to its budget. According to a Facebook post from the President of the Union that represents South Hadley Firefighters, around 75 taxpayers attended the event and approximately 40 voted to reject Article 5, which calls for funding of the Personnel Services line in the Prudential Committee’s Annual Budget.
22News spoke with one of the people who attended the meeting. They explained they wanted more specifics on what the article actually funded, so they turned it down.
Taking a look at the budget, Personnel Services include wages for District One firefighters and ambulance personnel, as well as the Chief and administrative staff. Fiscal Year 2024 proposed a three percent raise in wages for those firefighters and paramedics, a 2.5 percent raise for the administrative clerk and treasurer and a three-percent bump in Holiday Pay for the Fire Chief with additional lines, like overtime. Altogether, it adds up to $2.7 million dollars, up from $2.6 million.
However, Article 5 doesn’t only fund the increase. Rejecting it also revoked funding for those positions entirely. According to the Union president, all the other articles were approved, funding things like equipment maintenance and utilities which represent a majority of the district’s $5.1 million budget.
So, come July 1, the lights will stay on at District One but no one will be home. The Prudential Committee, which is tasked with the fiscal oversight of this station, has a meeting scheduled for Friday. On the agenda, scheduling a re-convening of their annual meeting.