Athol fire, police capital requests get the green light

Assistant Director of Public Works Paul Raskevitz (far left) meets with Athol's Capital Program Committee on Thursday, Feb. 29.

Assistant Director of Public Works Paul Raskevitz (far left) meets with Athol's Capital Program Committee on Thursday, Feb. 29. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 03-07-2024 4:54 PM

ATHOL – The town’s Capital Program Committee last Thursday managed to trim departmental requests for just over $1.6 million in capital expenditures down to $824,000—the amount available in the FY25 capital budget.

The Police Department got everything requested, which included $75,000 for a new cruiser, $25,000 for building repairs and $29,000 for ballistic or bullet-resistant vests; a total of $129,000.

The CPC also recommended funding most of the requests from the Department of Public Works. DPW administrators had asked the committee to recommend the purchase of two all-electric vehicles for the water and sewer divisions. DPW Assistant Director Paul Raskevitz had requested a total of $90,000 for the 2024 KONA Electric SEs, with $45,000 coming out of each division’s FY25 budget.

Committee members expressed some degree of skepticism about the purchase of the EVs.

“The only argument we had on this,” said committee member Gary Deyo, “was because of the volatility of the battery-operated cars in cold weather; it’s not good.”

“If there’s an issue, if it’s snowing or if it’s an extreme cold weather event, we would use a plow; they wouldn’t be out and about,” said Raskevitz. “These would just be out for when we’re reading (meters), when we’re doing the rounds. But if there’s going to be foul weather we would use a four-wheel drive.”

Raskevitz had previously informed the CPC that the EV for the Sewer Division would generally be used for trips to and from Royalston’s wastewater treatment plant, which is operated by Athol under an inter-municipal agreement, while the Water Division vehicle would be used mainly to undertake meter readings around town.

In the end, the committee decided to leave the decision on whether to buy EVs up to the Selectboard, which has the final say on what to recommend to Town Meeting voters. The motion approved by the CPC was “to purchase mileage-efficient vehicles” and let the Selectboard determine what would fit that definition.

Other matters

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With very little discussion, the committee voted to approve the expenditure of $504,000 from the capital budget for other items requested by the DPW. These include $85,000 for existing truck leases, $200,000 in non-Chapter 90 funding for work on roadways, $25,000 for used equipment, $89,000 for a CPT Pickup, and $105,000 for an all-season dump truck body.

The committee did not recommend an $89,000 request by the Fire Department for a new cruiser for the chief. It did, however, support the purchase of a “mileage-efficient” vehicle which would replace a 2010 Ford Expedition used for inspections. The CPC also recommended that $21,000 be taken from the ambulance fund to buy a new power chair, rather than paying for it out of the capital budget. And the committee supported the use of $65,000 in capital budget funding for building repairs.

A request for $250,000 for repairs to the animal control building on Thrower Road was cut to $50,000 by the CPC, while a request for $8,500 for air conditioning units for municipal buildings was bumped up to $10,000.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.