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Higher Fire Dept. budget attributed to bigger salaries


HARVARD — The Fire Department’s fiscal year 2009 budget increase, like those of the Police Department and Department of Public Works, is primarily salary-driven, said fire Chief Robert Mignard.

With no captain in the department, officers’ stipend costs are down, but he said stipend costs for on-call firefighters are difficult to predict. Halfway through the year, that account is down by about 46 percent, he said. When they’re called out, firefighters get $35 for the first hour-and-a-half, $20 for the next and $20 per hour after that.

Also, no raises are anticipated, said Mignard.

He said he always builds educational costs, such as officer certifications and supervisor training, into his budget.

“I’m big into training It pays off,” he said.

In all, the figure he came up with for FY09 is based on this year’s budget, but slightly higher.

“This is fairly modest,” he said.

The list of equipment costs for includes radio repairs he said he hoped to cover with a grant this year, but the department didn’t get it.

The low frequency band used to communicate town-wide and beyond is a “problem,” he said. But things should improve with the use of a new VHF antenna and a plan to integrate a new system over time, he said.

In addition, a couple of new men need new protective clothing. The aim is to re-outfit crew members every three or four years, he said.

Asked if he had any overarching concerns, Mignard noted “looming” costs, such as replacing equipment and repair work at the station to fix roof and vent leaks. An “old beast” furnace converted from oil to gas works well enough for now, he said, but it’s not very efficient.

For now, though, he said he’s not asking for costly new items.

“This budget will take care of business,” said Mignard.