PEPPERELL -- Residents voted overwhelmingly to approve a tax increase for a new ladder truck for the town's fire department in Monday's special referendum.

The 497-152 tally allows for the town to borrow outside the limits of Proposition 2 1/2 and pay off debt for the $1.4 million vehicle.

"The next step now," said Assistant Tax Collector Sharon Tetreault, "is for the town treasurer to put out to bid, to banks and other lenders, for a bond," to secure the up-front funding. The bond will be repaid, via tax dollars, over the next few years. Terms have not been disclosed.

"We want to thank the residents very much for supporting us," said Chief Toby Tyler. "It's not just the fire department's truck, it's for them too." The much-needed equipment will augment the department's fleet of emergency vehicles that includes forestry trucks, ambulances, engines and tankers. "But, we have been without a working ladder for three-and-a-half years."

Residents outside the polling booth at Varnum Brook Elementary School offered points of view on the matter. " I voted for it," said Nick Pentedemos. "They risk their lives every day, for minimal pay. The least we can do is provide them with the proper equipment."

Another voter said, in try to convince others to vote for the project,"The problem with voting on things for the fire department is that people think 'well they got the job done anyway so if they could do it before, then why do they need this equipment?' They need it to make the job easier.



Tyler estimates that the actual arrival time for the new rig will be in late spring, and it will greatly enhance the capabilities of the five full-time members and 50 on-call firefighters.