Williamsburg Town Meeting OKs budgets, full-time fire chief

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 06-07-2023 5:57 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — Voters approved town and school budgets and several capital purchases along with a shift to a full-time fire chief in a three-hour Town Meeting Monday evening, Town Administrator Nick Caccamo reported.

Town and school budgets totaling $9,068,534 passed on voice votes, and five new vehicles for the highway, fire and police departments were also OK’d.

There was considerable discussion on the proposal to move to a full-time fire chief, Caccamo said. The change, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, boosted the Fire Department salary line by 50% to $56,177.

Arguments for the change included increased call volume and inspections (solar, gas station, propane tanks, fire alarm systems). A full-time chief would be able to devote time to writing grants, preparing monthly trainings, and other administrative duties.

The Select Board supported the change, Caccamo said, though a majority of the Finance Committee did not. The committee took the position that the town could not afford a full-time chief, and that the need for additional help could be addressed by increasing administrative support and contracting for fire-inspection services.

A majority of voters disagreed, however, and supported the full-time position, which will be funded at $75,000 for FY 2025.

Caccamo said Chief Jason Connell presented the idea to the Select Board, which will determine whether to move him into the position or open up a hiring process.

Personnel changes will also be coming to the Police Department, which is adding full-time positions to reduce reliance on part-time officers.

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In addition, voters approved the establishment of a revolving fund for firearms training, and adopted the section of Massachusetts General Laws creating a so-called “strong” police chief.

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