Fire Hydrant Rental: What Should The Town Pay, If Anything?
Part II: Additional points worth noting.
This is Part II. Part I: Does the entire Town benefit in part from hydrant infrastructure?s here.
The Norwich Fire District has 67 fire hydrants that it says costs $30,000 to $40,000 per year to repair, replace, and maintain. Currently the Town pays approximately 27 to 36 percent of that expense. What should the Town’s share be, if anything?
Several points additional to those in Part I are noted below.
- At the last Selectboard meeting, Selectboard Chair Layton wondered whether the filling of the fire trucks caused undue strain on the infrastructure. That issue is worth exploring.
- The Town now needs to reserve an extra $15000 per year as a result of taking over the Fire District’s sidewalks. Should not that count for something? See, Sidewalk Repairs More Costly Than Anticipated
- The Fire District is not broke. According to the last Town Report, it had over $100,000 in cash in reserves. Of course the Fire District has other things it would rather spend the money on. Don't we all?
- As Selectboard member Flanders alluded, perhaps the pricing of water needs reexamination. Typically, charges to users should cover all costs including maintenance of the infrastructure. Why should the Town subsidize those expenses, absent a direct benefit to the Town.
- Are 67 hydrants necessary? Could some be eliminated?
- Twice since FY 2004, volunteer firefighters have caused significant damage to water lines during drills by not handling the hydrants properly. That seems an avoidable problem. In the last Town Report, the Fire District stated “this on-going and repeated problem apparently is not going away.” Although billed for the expense, the Town did not pay, but the NFD does not say why. Perhaps the Town should write a check based on its then share of the infrastructure costs [27 to 36%], absent a good reason not to.
- How do other municipalities deal with this topic? Perhaps the Fire District and Town could gain some insight from how other towns and fire districts deal with the issue. Landline telephone service is available in most of Vermont in 2017.
Previous posts on Norwich Fire District topics assumed it was a separate municipality. That may not be the case. Not all Fire Districts in Vermont are separate municipalities. “Fire districts, for example, were often created locally without special legislation and without notification to the state” states the Vermont Municipalities: Index to their Charters and Special Acts at page 1. No state charter for the Norwich Fire District is listed in that Index published by the Vermont Secretary of State and updated through 1997. See Index at page 81.
Vermont Municipalities: Index to their Charters and Special Acts https://www.sec.state.vt.us/media/46759/Index_to_Municipal_Charters.pdf
A history of Fire Districts in Vermont is discussed at the website of the Colchester Fire District. https://www.cfd1.org/what-is-fire-district